Where are we going to now?

Or actions speak louder than words, Nicola Sturgeon.

On this day (as I write), the 7th anniversary of the day when Scotland was prevented from gaining its independence, I remember the days in the run up to the 2014 referendum, when the hope of many, including myself, was the creation of an independent Scotland which would become a model of democracy and citizen participation: a country which would provide an example to the rest of the world: a country Scots would be proud to call home. We had a government focussed on independence, led by a First Minister who was driving Scotland in the direction most Scots wanted to go, towards an independent future where we would be in control of our own destiny, not depending on our neighbour to make almost all the decisions about how our country is run.

I remember those days and I remember how wonderful it felt believing I was part of the generation that would finally bring us independence after over 300 years of colonial status, subject to the whims of an English parliament more concerned about the prosperity of Southern England and about making the well-off even better off. I remember those days and I also remember the following day when everything took on the dull, grey hue of disappointment.

Of course, in just a few weeks, despite the disappointment of Alex Salmond’s resignation, most independence supporters thought the appointment (or should I say coronation) of Alex Salmond’s deputy and arguably the voice of independence throughout the referendum campaign, Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister and leader of the SNP would only continue the drive towards independence. What could go wrong?

Well, let’s look at what happened, or what didn’t happen, to take the independence project forward, during Nicola Sturgeon’s seven year tenure.

During the referendum campaign and in its aftermath, several issues arose which would have to be addressed prior to a second referendum or (preferably) another, better process to deliver independence. They included:

  • What currency would Scotland use?
  • How to set up a Scottish Central Bank, essential for a fully functioning economy?
  • The status of the border(s) between Scotland and the rest of the UK?
  • The volume of Scottish exports being shipped via the rest of the UK?
  • The development of port facilities to allow a greater proportion of Scottish exports to be shipped directly from Scotland
  • The development of road and rail infrastructure to support the enhanced port facilities
  • How to introduce a Scottish retirement pension and what level will it be set at?
  • The size and scope of Scottish armed forces?
  • Scottish shipbuilding without orders from the Royal Navy?
  • Scottish Energy Company, announced amid great fanfare at the 2017 SNP conference and promised for the last parliament?

How much time has Nicola Sturgeon’s government spent on addressing, never mind resolving these issues? If your answer is none, then you’ll be pretty close to being correct. Perhaps the biggest fiasco is the Scottish Energy Company, promising cheap energy for all, not delivered in the last parliament as promised, and now not even included in the latest Government plans. Was it always just a wee sop to the masses and never a real intention?

If not the above issues, what have the SNP and the Scottish Government been spending their time on. Well, not surprisingly, I have a list of some of these as well. They include:

  • Brexit. How much time did Nicola Sturgeon spend trying to prevent the English voters getting what the voted for? Imagine the reaction if the English Government spent as much time trying to prevent something the Scots wanted. Oh, of course, they did, didn’t they, in 2014. Who remembers Nicola Sturgeon saying “Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU against our will”. Who remembers “Scotland could hold another independence referendum if forced to leave the EU”. Note the difference in emphasis between the two sentences, “will not” and “could“. As it happens, both promises were ignored,
  • GRA reform, or as it is more commonly known, The Exclusion of Women bill or The Disapperance of the Two Sexes bill, is the Scottish Government plan to invent women with willies,
  • the Hate Crime Act, introduced to prevent any opposition to GRA reform, by making opposition illegal, subject to jail time,
  • the Alex Salmond trials, the SNP’s attempt to exclude any competition for the independence vote by smearing Salmond to prevent him from re-entering politics,
  • the jailing of Craig Murray for having the cheek to report both the prosecution case and the defence case in the Alex Salmond criminal trial, making clear that the prosecution case was so flimsy, you could look through it to see what the Government’s real intention was,
  • the so-called 4 Nations plans, a 4 Nations Covid response which resulted in Scotland having one of the worst records in the world, a 4 Nations Oil plan which would give Westminster even more control over Scottish resources, were Nicola Sturgeon’s ideas for developing the Scottish nation by asking Westminster to make even more decisions for us
  • and the latest fiasco, restrictions on protesting against Government policies close to Holyrood, making use of a Westminster law, presumably to mop up any not caught by the Hate Crime Act.

So, in summary, no time has been spent on updating the indy prospectus, that’s no Scottish Government time in 5 years, no time spent by the NEC, the supposed controlling body of the SNP, though I think everyone knows that the real controlling body of the SNP is the one inhabited by Nicola Stiugeon.

Instead, the majority of Government and Party time was spent doing stuff which brought independence no closer. Just look at the list above. Nothing on that list will help bring about Scottish independence. In fact, arguably, the opposite is true, as all the actions are so devisive, they’re likely the have set independence back for years, perhaps even for generations.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about why independence is important and what independence really means. For me, independence means the confidence to make your own choices, both as an individual and collectively, as a country, knowing what you do matters, knowing that it won’t simply be overturned or ignored by those in another country who really call the shots. I personally think that, in just a few years, Scotland would be unrecognisably better compared to the country it is now. The difference between today’s colonialisation and tomorrow’s independence is vast and is something worth fighting for.

I hope you agree.

Why annoy England when we could save Scotland?

Since the EU referendum in 2016, there has been loads of discussion about whether it’s right for the Scottish Parliament to be trying to save England from itself by preventing Brexit from going ahead. The majority in the EU referendum was entirely created by voters in England and Wales, so there was and is a strong argument for England and Wales getting the Brexit they voted for, while Scotland and Northern Ireland remained in the EU, which they voted for.

But that was never going to happen. As is normal in the UK, English opinion always takes precedence and is imposed on the other countries in the UK, whether they like it or not. So Brexit it is.

But the original question remains. Is it right for the Scottish Government to try to prevent England (and Wales) from getting what a majority of their voters wanted? I know that, in the current circumstances, England will drag Scotland out of the EU as well, but is there not another way to prevent this from happening?

Two recent events brought this strongly back to mind.

First, there was the utter insanity of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s decision to close down the system introduced earlier in the Covid-19 crisis which allowed MPs to take part in debates and vote remotely and force every MP to return to the potentially virus infected House of Commons. According to JR-M, it was not possible to have a proper debate unless you were face to face with those you were debating with, to allow proper understanding of the debate and proper interventions. This seemed to lack any real appreciation of the dangers involved in putting 650 people into a room together when it was possible that some of them would be infected and therefore could be spreading it to others.

Many of the fears were realised when pictures came out of the conga line waiting to vote and the crush at the bottom of the escalator. So much for social isolation. Then we had the sight of Alok Sharma, a government minister, struggling to finish a speech before being carted off into isolation. He was tested for Covid-19, but found negative. Maybe a false negative? Or maybe the Tory party were just following JR-M’s advice that any MP with a positive test was under no obligation to tell his colleagues? Time will tell.

Much was said in Scotland that Scottish MPs should not attend. Many SNP supporters in particular wanted their MPs to stay away, as much for the MPs own safety as to make a political point, but mainly because it would seem to break the Scottish Government’s rules about travelling, a rule strongly emphasised by the First Minister in her earlier briefing that day. It could hardly be said that they were essential workers as they could have no influence on the vote, the Tories having such a large majority. Unfortunately, with the First Minister’s approval, a contingent of eight MPs headed south to take part in the farce that was to happen. Just why was it more important to be a part of a fiasco in a foreign parliament than to be in Scotland planning independence? Beats me.

The second event was the news that the Scottish Government had released a report justifying the need for an extension to the Brexit negotiations.

As I said in an earlier posting, what the last few months have shown us is how little the Tory government cares about any part of the UK outside England, maybe even outside the southern half of England. They actively prioritised the supply of PPE to English hospitals and care homes. I say prioritised, but they actually tried to prevent supplies reaching Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at all. Now, we have the Chancellor telling us that if the Scottish Government even thinks of extending lockdown beyond that decided by Westminster for the South of England, they wouldn’t get funds to extend the furlough scheme. As they have done often in the past, we see Westminster trying to use their control of Scotland’s finances to force the Scottish Government to do something which will harm the Scottish people, in this case, possibly kill some of them. Better together?

However, despite Westminster’s obvious lack of concern for Scotland’s wellbeing, despite the obvious signs that Westminster is only interested in what is can get out of Scotland, not in how Scotland can thrive, the Scottish Government spends time and money producing a report showing the UK Government how to save itself from the worst effects of an action that they’re determined to take. Will anyone in the UK Government even look at the report? This can only benefit Scotland if we remain part of the UK. Why do we want to remain part of the UK?

As an aside, here are a couple of examples showing why England wants Scottish resources.

Since 2000, the amount of Scottish produced electricity transferred to England over the National Grid was almost 203 thousand gigawatt hours. Of course, electricity is also transferred the other way and the National Grid have written a whole document explaining how the Grid protects Scottish consumers by allowing transfers from England to Scotland (read it here). However, over the same period, the amount of English produced electricity transferred to Scotland was just over 8 thousand gigawatt hours or about 4% of the Scotland – England total. It’s quite clear which country benefits most from the arrangement.

The idea has again been raised to build a canal to transfer water from Scotland to the drier parts of the UK, mainly London and the South East of England. Fortunately, for Scotland, the cost of such a scheme would be enormous, so the South of England hasn’t yet reached a state of dryness that they’re prepared to suffer the cost of construction, though the cost of the water is likely to be zero. This is not the first time the idea has been raised and a similar scheme is already in place in Wales. Of course, if it went ahead, it would be considered a national project, so Scotland would have to pay about 8.5% of the total cost. Yet again, Scotland would have to pay to give away our resources to England. It’s quite clear which country would benefit most from the arrangement.

So, once again, as the UK Government has clearly demonstrated that they couldn’t care less about the Scottish people and that their only interest in Scotland is in taking its resources, the question remains. Why are we in Scotland spending so much time and money trying to make staying part of the UK as painless as possible, when we should be concentrating on saving ourselves from the disaster and the enormous money pit that England represents. Why can’t we spend more time planning to go?

Answers on a postcard to Bute House?

You can never have too much money …… allegedly

A tale of loose morals and how the rich got richer and the rest of us didn’t.

After the end of World War II, 1945 ushered in a reforming Labour government which effectively set the scene in the UK for the next 25 years.  They introduced the NHS, free at the point of use, and expanded Social Security provisions with the objective of providing a safety net for all families “from the cradle to the grave”.   I know it will be hard for younger readers (ie. anyone under 50) to believe that Labour were once a reforming party, but I can assure you it was once true.  Labour used to be led by people who weren’t as right wing as Tony Blair, who weren’t as foolish as Gordon Brown and who weren’t as plain stupid as Tricky Dicky Leonard.  Really, they were.  Honest, it is actually true.  Would I lie?  Even when the Conservatives replaced Labour, the provisions introduced by Labour were largely retained because there was a general consensus in the country that they were the ‘right thing to do’.

However, step on a few decades and things started to change.  Since Thatcher’s government of the nineteen eighties, the UK has become a different country.  Instead of the production of goods, the emphasis in the UK economy has been changed to concentrate on the creation of money.  Those not concerned in the production of money were often discarded; manufacturing jobs were cut, supposedly to reduce the power of the manufacturing unions, and unemployment rose, funded largely by the newly discovered North Sea oil.  It is interesting to contemplate what Thatcher would have done without North Sea oil.  How could she have funded the changes?  Her need for North Sea oil provides a clear explanation of the reason behind the lies told to Scotland about its value.  If they had been told how much it was worth, the Scots might have wanted some of it for themselves and that would never have done.  Oil was not for the bare-arsed, kilt-wearing lower classes.

The banks were given practically free rein to do what they liked, as long as it generated money; as long as it increased profits.  Banks, whose local branches used to look after Granny’s savings and would lend money to small companies to help them grow, now became addicted to gambling in a big way and it seemed they were good at it as it certainly made their profits, and the bonuses of the gambling employees, grow.  In the United States, the gamble of choice was the subprime mortgage.  These were loans to folks who wanted to buy a house, but who couldn’t really afford one.  So they weren’t such a good credit risk, but the banks quickly found that the more risk you were prepared to take, the more mortgages you could sell, the more money you made and the bigger bonuses you could pay yourself.  In many cases, it was fake money because even more money was produced by moving batches of mortgages around while adding a bit on to the price each time it moved, generating profits for the bank and bonuses for the bankers without really increasing the value of the mortgages.  Of course, though nobody realised at the time or, if they did, they didn’t care, this couldn’t go on for ever.  The goods went round and round the merry-go-round, like a game of pass the parcel, sellers making profits and buyers happy to buy knowing they could sell to someone else at a profit, until the music stopped and the company left holding the parcel had to unwrap it to find out what was in it.  And often they found out that, by the time it reached them, there was nothing left, or at least, nothing to justify what had been paid.  But the fake ‘profits’ made at each stage had been used to justify the huge salaries and bonuses that the money men were able to pay themselves.  To make matters better, for them, but worse, for the rest of us, they would have enough money to afford accountants who would make sure they didn’t have to pay any tax.

The crash was bound to come and when it finally came in 2008, banks all over the world were in trouble, some going bust and many others close to.  What was to be done?  Should the ones who caused the problem and had benefitted from the racket be made to pay or should those with no involvement and no power be made to foot the bill?  As this isn’t a Grimms’ fairy story, I’m sure you can guess the answer.  In one of the biggest transfers of wealth of all time from the poor (the taxpayers) to the rich (the bank executives and shareholders), the government bailed out the banks with our money.  With the exception of one or two sent to the gallows so the government could pretend that it was taking action, those who caused the problem were able to retain their immoral earnings, while those who didn’t, lost out.  The government said at the time that the money used to fund the bailouts would be returned, with interest, when the banks returned to profitability, but we all really knew it was a lie and, indeed, that was the way it turned out.

Handing all this money to the banks left the government a bit short, so they had to come up with ways to increase their income or reduce their outgoings. The option of increasing general taxation to raise extra money was quickly dismissed, bad politics with an election coming up. A windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses was considered, but not implemented before the 2010 election, and there was no way a Conservative government would do such a thing. So again they turned to a soft target, the Social Security system. Changes were introduced to ‘tighten up’ the system, and with the Conservative media ramping up stories about benefit fraud, the Labour government were free to introduce one of the biggest changes, Work Capability Assessments, run from the start by ATOS, a French based private company who set targets for the number of claimants they could screw. Why do Westminster governments always target the weakest and poorest and let the strongest and richest off scot-free? Why did no one in government care about the impact the changes were having on those least able to defend themselves? Why did no one in government care about the number of deaths the changes caused? Though the changes were introduced by Labour, the Tories, who followed in 2010, with the willing assistance of their little yellow LibDem helpers, made things even worse for claimants at the same time as they were dishing out tax cuts to the rich.

The ATOS contract followed the usual government plan of handing taxpayers’ money over to rich companies.  As more and more private companies are brought in to carry out parts of what used to be public sector  functions, more and more of our money is being handed over to multi-national companies owned by rich money men.  Yet more transfers from the poor to the rich.

Unfortunately (for the money men), governments were forced to introduce rules to prevent the bank scam which caused the 2008 crash happening again, so that was the end of that money making scheme.  Something had to be found to replace it, because the money men needed to keep the money rolling in.  They may already have enormous wealth, but it was important to add to that wealth, because you can never have too much.  As things stand, the world’s richest 1% have as much wealth as the rest of the world’s population combined (see Fairtrade Foundation).  Even though they already have more money than they could possibly spend in several lifetimes, they still want more.

But there’s no shortage of inventiveness among rich people in search of further riches, so it wasn’t long before a new scheme was hatched, and this was even better, because nobody would lose, or at least nobody who counted.  It had long been known that betting huge sums on the movement of currencies caused by the outcome of significant political events could produce enormous profits, at least if you were right.  But if you were wrong, you could make an enormous loss, which obviously wasn’t such a good idea.  You certainly didn’t want to get it wrong.  But what if you knew someone who was in a position to influence what was happening, and what if you could strike a deal for them to take an action which would be very likely to produce a beneficial result.  An action that would be likely to minimise or even remove the possibility of making a loss.  Betting on a sure thing?

Who do you think would be in a position to influence what was happening in the political arena?  Could that be a politician?  Could that be the politician in the position of the greatest power, the one being punted by the media?

Before looking at the current situation, let’s think of an event that happened three years ago, the EU referendum.  As the referendum approached, large numbers of hedge funds took short positions, ie. they bet on the outcome being leave.  At the time, the expectation was that remain would win and, as the vote approached, polling data appeared to confirm this view.  Immediately after the polls closed, Nigel Farage, the effective leader of the leave side, appeared to concede defeat for leave and this view was confirmed by YouGov saying that the latest trends were towards remain.  As a result, sterling soared.  However, as we all know, the result was somewhat different.  Sterling tanked and the hedge funds which had bet on sterling falling made huge profits.  Several hedge fund managers have described 24 June, 2016, the day after the referendum, as the most profitable day in their history.

There have been many investigations into what happened that night, but it seems fairly well accepted that the profits made by the hedge funds were the byproduct of the comments made by Farage and other politicians and with the information provided by several polling companies.  Vast profits were made because of an alleged arrangement between the money men and those who had the ability to influence events.

So now let’s think about today and the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.  What immediately strikes you is the similarity between what’s happening now and what happened in the run-up to the referendum.  This time, the main man seems to be Boris Johnson, who is leading the negotiations between the UK and the EU, though his interest in securing a deal seems at least to be in some doubt.  We know (thanks to Carole Cadwalladr) that the hedge funds who were funding Johnson and the Leave campaign have already taken in excess of £8bn of short positions on a no deal Brexit (ie. betting that it’s going to happen).  Interestingly, a large part of the money was placed after the result of the Tory leadership election was announced, the result of which was influenced by these same companies bankrolling Johnson’s leadership bid to the extent of nearly half a million pounds.  Obviously, hedge fund managers must really like Boris Johnson.  They seemed very keen for him to win.  I wonder why.

So if things work out as planned, we will see a few very rich people getting even richer. But what will they do with the money? Maybe they’ll spend some of the money to buy a few more houses? Or a few more cars? Or maybe they’ll give their staff a rise to share out the good fortune? Or will they simply put the money into a bank vault to join the rest of their millions, taking it out of circulation where it won’t do the rest of us any good?  It is estimated, based on information contained in the Panama papers, that, worldwide, the equivalent of about $8 trillion is held in offshore accounts, mainly for tax avoidance purposes.  Of course, the whole Brexit fiasco came about because of the EU plan to crack down on such tax avoidance schemes, which the money men were very keen to avoid, for obvious reasons.

Should we be trying to do something to stop this latest money making scheme from succeeding?  Is there anything that realistically can be done? What do you think?  Suggestions welcomed.

Are We in the Last Chance Saloon?

As I write, the Brexit cliff edge beckons.  There’s only two weeks to go until the UK makes the biggest mistake of its 218 year history by closing the door to the rest of the world.  At this stage, no one, including the UK Government, in fact, especially the UK Government, has any idea what’s happening now and even less what’s going to happen after we leave.

Currently, it seems as if the country is being governed by a combination of the weirdly named European Research Group, who hate Europe, and the even more weirdly named Democratic Unionist Party, who are probably the least democratic party in the UK.  In fact, seems as if the UK Government are prepared to give away pretty much anything the DUP ask for just to keep their votes.   So much for taking back control.  And talk of making better trade deals without the interference of the evil EU has turned out to be just that, talk.  Ask Liam Fox if his deal making is going to plan .

What the Brexit debates have shown, at least to anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention, is that the UK Government has no interest in Scottish opinions and that SNP voices are routinely either ignored or abused (and no, I’m not talking about Ross Thomson here).  Treeza walks out every time Ian Blackford stands to speak (is she frightened of him?) and Tory back benchers either try to drown out any SNP speech, to the extent that even the Speaker feels obliged to tell them to shut up, or they walk out on-mass, preferring a visit to the bar to bothering with the debate.  Scottish Tories are the worst of the worst.  They seem to have no interest either in their constituents or in Scotland.  They seem to believe that they have been elected to ignore the former and rubbish the latter.   I won’t list all their insults and their demonstrations of ignorance about Scotland and Scottish history, but their latest effort shows clearly what their main objective is, as they try to persuade the UK Chancellor to scrap the Barnett Formula and reduce the proportion of Scottish taxes returned to the Scottish Government because “they will only fritter it away” on things the Tories don’t approve of, like free tertiary education, decent social security payments, free meals for school children and free care for the elderly, when everyone knows it should be given to their rich pals.

Labour are just as bad.  Remember the Bain Principle, that Labour would never support any action proposed by the SNP, even if it was something they really agreed with.  However, under Corbyn, Labour have adopted a new strategy.  Whereas they used to treat SNP amendments as an opportunity to get pissed on cheap Westminster alcohol, knowing they would be abstaining when it came to the vote, now they simply sit on their bums in the chamber while voting is going on, still abstaining, but staying more sober.  The impact on the Westminster bars must be considerable.

Surely by now, anyone who cares about Scotland’s place in the UK must realise that there is no chance of the UK ever becoming a union of equals and of Scotland ever being treated fairly in Westminster when English representation is so much bigger that they can even outvote the three other countries put together.  Westminster is the de-facto English parliament.

The Brexit debates have prompted much discussion about a date for a second IndyRef, particularly as several recent polls have shown independence ahead of all possible Brexit outcomes.  There seems to be four “popular” options for the timing of a referendum, two of which can be described as the “audacious” options and two as the “cautious” options.  Let’s look in more detail at the options.

Audacious 1
We make an announcement as soon as the EU and the UK Government reach (or don’t reach) an agreement and the full horror of the impact of the exit terms becomes apparent, so the referendum can be announced on or before the Brexit date of 29th March.  This is the option favoured by a large number, maybe even a majority, of Yessers.  In fact, most would probably prefer an even earlier date, tomorrow, say.
*  Pros: Announcing a new independence referendum will energise the huge number of supporters becoming frustrated at the lack of action
Cons: A short independence campaign may not provide sufficient time to convert enough Noes to Yes to give a winning result.

Audacious 2
As we have an existing mandate, with a pro-independence majority in both Holyrood and Westminster, we need to hold the referendum after Brexit but before the end of the current Scottish parliament in 2021 when the mandate expires.
*  Pros: It makes use of the existing mandate, not guaranteed to be available after the 2021 election and it prevents upsetting voters who voted for independence last time not turning out because their last vote was “wasted”.
*  Cons: Free of EU control, it gives Westminster time to introduce rules to handcuff the Scottish Parliament and make another IndyRef difficult, if not impossible.  Not making use of the existing mandate can create difficulties among those who voted SNP on the basis of the pledge to bring forward a referendum if  (e.g.) we were dragged out of the EU against our will.  Will all of these people be prepared to give the SNP a second chance?

Cautious 1
We should wait for some time after the 2021 until people have more direct experience of the full horrors of Brexit foisted on us by the lunatic fringe of the Tory party, when they will realise that they can’t escape the disastrous impact that Brexit will have on their lives.
*  Pros: The problems brought on by Brexit will have impacted the lives of the majority sufficiently for those who voted no last time to be encouraged to look favourably at the option of independence.
*  Cons: By that time, Brexit will have been in place for several years and will have started to become the accepted norm, so we may be in the same situation as in 2014, that some will be reluctant to risk independence.  It also gives Westminster even more time to act against Holyrood to prevent a second referendum.

Cautious 2
We should seek a fresh mandate in the 2026 Scottish election, with a specific manifesto pledge to hold an independence referendum within a year (say) of the start of the parliamentary session.
*  Pro: It provides the opportunity to get an indisputable mandate for independence that Westminster might find hard to ignore.
Cons: As before, it gives Westminster time to act against Holyrood and many voters may think Brexit has been in place too long to change.

Don’t let us forget that there are two other possibilities which have been pretty much ruled out by the Scottish Government but still could come back into play, UDI, which might be considered as the nuclear option, and the Margaret Thatcher option, that if a majority of pro-indy Scottish MPs are elected to Westminster, that would be enough to trigger independence.  Pity we hadn’t pushed for that in 2015.

Re-reading this before posting, I almost wish I hadn’t written it as it crystalised my own thinking that the SNP were depending too much on the failure of Brexit and on developing a reputation as a safe pair of hands, and, as a result, independence was taking something of a back seat. The years since IndyRef have seen caution as the watchword and the excitement that characterised the run-up to 2014 isn’t front and centre as it was then.  The Scottish Government have concentrated for too long (in my opinion) in trying to save the rest of the UK (mainly England) from the Brexit problems they’ve brought on themselves and not enough time on independence.  We even had the ludicrous situation that the BritNat parties were talking more about independence than the SNP.  Is that right?  Even many of the comments made by Nicola about independence in her speeches seemed more aimed at what the grassroots could do and were not really saying that the party would be leading from the front.  Recently, there has been talk about how Brexit is making the case for independence stronger, but talk without action is in danger of making the SNP into the party who cried wolf.  Perhaps the Spring Conference will bring more clarity.

Think folks, while there are dangers in going too early for independence, there may be even more dangers in waiting too long.  Strike while the iron is hot.  Grasp the nettle.  Take the bull by the horns.  Etc.  Etc.

All for Brexit’s Wedding

A Modern Political Fable.

Brexit. Is it the most stupid action ever by any UK government, perhaps the most stupid action ever by any government in the world? Heaven knows what was going through Cameron’s tiny mind when he embarked on this utterly ridiculous exercise. To solve the problem of the idiot right wing Tories defecting to UKIP and damaging the Tory’s electoral chances (step forward and take a bow Messrs. Cash, Redwood and Rees-Mogg, you know you want to), he decided to shut them up permanently by proving once and for all that most Brits were European at heart. He was so confident that he would win, that he did very little proper campaigning and, worst of all, he didn’t bother to think through what he would do if he lost. Well, when I say what he would do, I meant what the country would do, because we all know what he personally would do, because he did it. He pissed off to make loads of money, helped out by the mates he helped out when he was PM, and left the rest of us in a great pile of steaming ordure. In any case, what made him think that the loony Tory’s BritNat wing would shut up just because they lost a vote. Was never going to happen.

With Cameron off to make money elsewhere, The Tories needed a new leader with a plan to stop them sinking into the aforementioned ordure. All seemed lost until Treeza started spinning and, in a puff of smoke, revealed herself to be WonderMay. We must embrace Brexit, she said. Brexit is Brexit, she said. We’ll have the biggest, hardest Brexit that anyone has ever had, she said. We’ll show them all that we’re the bestest Brexiteers in the history of Brexitting, she said, especially those f’ing Europeans. Cue Tory cheering. We’ve found our saviour, they said.

Little did they know then that their idol had feet of clay, or do I mean head of clay, and, unfortunately, events over the following year only showed that the clay was of the thickest, most impenetrable kind as May stumbled from one self-made crisis to another, her only solution being to throw money at them. She threw money at the DUP. She threw money at the EU. She even threw money at Scotland, although that turned out to be more like Monopoly money, the kind you can’t spend, except when you’re playing games.

But even the peasants were starting to get restless. Some of them were openly expressing the opinion that SuperMay wasn’t really all that super, that she wasn’t in control of Brexit, that Brexit was really in control of her, that she was just as stupid as she appeared. Some were even questioning the whole Brexit idea and saying that another referendum was needed. This had to stop. Money was at stake. Super-rich money.

Make no mistake, money is what Brexit is all about. The ability of the super-rich to keep all the money they’ve got and make much, much more. Brexit has nothing to do with improving the lives of most of the UK population. Taking back control is nothing more than a slogan invented by the Brexiteers and parroted by the media to sway enough the masses. It is years of anti-EU propaganda finally paying off. There was never any intention to take back control. If the intention had been to take back control, why the efforts to prevent the UK Parliament having any involvement in Brexit, why the secrecy about putting documents before parliamentary committees and why have the government not bothered to work out the impact of Brexit on the economy. The intention has always been to remove the EU from any involvement in UK lawmaking and transfer total control to the super-rich, fronted by a bunch of compliant politicians, well paid for their efforts. The EU was proving too big for the super rich to control and the last straw was an EU proposal to introduce rules to prevent multi-national companies from transferring their profits out of higher taxed EU countries to lower (or zero) taxed off-shore tax havens. A proposal likely to take effect in the Spring of 2019. Does that date ring a bell? The proposal would particularly impact the City of London, which has been described as the world’s biggest tax haven through its use of a multitude of British Overseas Territories and Dependencies where serious amounts of super-rich money is hidden away. The UK and its territories represent a haven for over 25% of the world’s offshore funds.

But it was all going wrong. NoLongerSuperMay had proved incapable of driving the changes necessary while keeping enough of the population onside. A popular movement against Brexit could derail the whole project. But what to do? Replacing NoLongerSuperMay would almost certainly strengthen the feeling against Brexit among much of the population, so that was not really an option. The choice of actions was extremely limited.

There was only one last hope. They had to deploy their ultimate weapon. They called in the “Family”. Yes, it was time for the thermonuclear royal device. Never previously known to fail, the thermonuclear royal device could take two forms, either the baby royal strategy (BARS) or the wedding royal strategy (WARS). The only decision to be made was which to go for. It was a hard choice, but there had to be something to take everyone’s attention away from Brexit and the disaster it had become.

In conjunction with the Family, the Tory government did what they always do in such circumstances, they set up a committee. And here the Tories made what might turn out to be a fatal mistake. Given the seriousness of the problem, they set up two committees, one to examine the BARS option and one to examine the WARS option. But each committee was determined to be the winner in the race to prove that their strategy was the bestest, that their strategy was the one to give the best possible result in the shortest possible time, so neither team wanted to share information and, as a result, communication between the BARS team and the WARS team was almost non-existent.

With the agreement of the Family, the BARS team had set out a development plan with a scheduled completion date of April, 2018, so, because of the strict timetabling in place for projects of this type, a start had to be made in July. Everything was put in place. The Royal Prince Willie was prepared to do his duty and the Royal Princess was said to be receptive, though, as with any plan (except Brexit, Ed.), a number of backup strategies were readied, in case the first attempt flopped. However, we won’t go into details of the backups just now.

The WARS team had more flexibility in making their arrangements and initially had aimed for the merger to take place much earlier, but their plans were delayed by indecision on the part of certain senior members of the Family and uncertainty that the Princely participant had completely run out of wild oats. Finally, agreement was reached and a date in May 2018 was set.

Imagine the shock when it was realised that the two events almost coincided. Images of babies being breast-fed during the wedding ceremony or even crying while the Royal vows were being exchanged flashed through people’s minds. How would that go down with the TV audience? After all, the solemnity of the occasion was what kept the audience glued to the screen. Turning it into a comedy show could have the opposite effect. Was this bad timing just an unfortunate coincidence or was it proof that, under the stress of the situation, even the Family were losing their touch? Another Royal baby and another Royal wedding in the same year? Surely one of them should have been delayed for twelve months to take our minds off Brexit. Isn’t that what the Royals are for?

To be slightly more serious for a moment, does the whole ongoing fiasco that is Brexit, combined with the disaster it represents for most of us should it actually happen, not mean we need to be doing all we can to get away from it? Do we really want to be ruled by a bunch of BritNat idiots who can’t tell truth from lies. Do we really want to live in a world created by David Davis, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Theresa May. David Davis, who doesn’t seem to know if he has any documents or not. Liam Fox, who tells us he can magic trade agreements out of thin air. Michael Gove, Rupert Murdoch’s little placeman in the UK Government. Boris Johnson, surely the UK’s worst ever Foreign Secretary, who’s desperate to do whatever it takes to be in charge. And Theresa May, whose only interest is in creating laws which allow her husband to further enrich himself and his super-rich clients. And that’s before we get to the likes of Jeremy Hunt, whose job it is to give away the NHS as quickly as possible, mainly to Richard Branson.

Is that the future for Scotland we are happy to see? Or is there another way? Surely now is the time for us to create our own future. Surely now is the time for another indyref.

Who’s too wee, too poor and too stupid now?

Too wee, too poor, too stupid.  It’s the standard cry of the Britnats whenever Scottish independence is mentioned.  Unlike all the other smaller countries in the world, Scotland hasn’t the size, nor the resources nor the intelligence to be a successful independent country.  It isn’t a view widely shared by the rest of the world, though you wouldn’t have realised that had you relied on the BBC and the rest of the British media for your information, with one or two honourable exceptions.

But recently, something seems to have changed, and it’s all down to Brexit.

It all started with David Cameron thinking that the best way to retain the votes of the loony right-wing little Englander elements in the Tory party who were threatening to move to UKIP, was to offer them a referendum on EU membership.  This duly appeared in the Tory’s manifesto for the 2015 election and it appeared to have the desired effect.  Against the odds, the Tories won a surprise overall majority.  Of course, this meant that Dave had had to deliver on his promise.

Not a problem, thought Dave.  Apart from the small number of loonies mentioned above, nobody with even a modicum of sense would consider leaving the EU, would they?  Or so he thought.  But he reckoned without possibly the worst campaign in British election history.  Both sides concentrated on telling the country how awful the other lot were (that bit was true) and the only positives came from the Leave campaign, with a series of promises which they knew they couldn’t keep, but as they were going to lose, there was no harm in promising the earth, was there?

In fact, both sides were so confident of the outcome, neither made any plans for what to do if the vote went the other way.  Remainers assumed it would be business as usual after their victory and Leavers believed no one with any sense could possibly fall for the bunch of half-baked lies that made up their campaign slogans.

Is one definition of stupid not to have any plans about what to do next following a vote on the whole future of the country?  Were they really that stupid?

Worse was to follow.  Having lost the referendum, Dave fell on his sword.  Admittedly it was a rubber sword, so it didn’t do him any harm, but it allowed him to bring forward his plan to make oodles of money on the speaking circuit from all those companies he had “helped out” while in office and it meant he would no longer have any responsibility for the shambles that was undoubtedly going to happen.

Step forward Theresa May.  A slightly reluctant Remainer during the referendum, she now became a born again Leaver.  Elected unopposed to replace Dithering Davie, she was seen as a safe pair of hands.  Having spent six years cementing her reputation as the nastiest Home Secretary in living memory, she was seen as just the person to sort out the problems caused by those nasty foreign workers coming into the country from other parts of the EU and contributing to our economy.

Determined to show she was a better Prime Minister than Dave, she set about assembling a cabinet of all the talents, including David Davies (hic!) as the man to sort out all those EU Johnny Foreigners and Liam Fox to arrange all the trade deals needed to replace the EU trade arrangements, … with a little help from his friends, perhaps.

But the most exciting appointment was Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, perhaps the only man living who numbers those he has insulted as greater than those he hasn’t.  The perfect choice to convince the rest of the world how much better than them Britain really is.

It didn’t take long before the UK government’s whole negotiating position began to fall apart.  Despite delaying the start of negotiations with the EU for as long as possible in the (ultimately forlorn) hope that they could scramble together a few ideas, it immediately became obvious that the UK government had no idea what they wanted to achieve, had no understanding of the complexity of the current relationship with the EU and couldn’t even manage to achieve any form of consistency in the statements made by cabinet ministers.  In or out of the Single Market?  In or out of the ECJ?  In or out of the European Counter Terrorism Centre and Europol.  In or out of Euratom?  In or out of European Medicines Agency?  The list goes on and on.  At the last count, there were at least twenty seven European agencies whose functions would have to be replicated if the UK government chose not to remain part of.  How many of them do you think our government has a plan for?

Instead of plans, we got “Brexit means Brexit” and “out means out”.  52% of those who voted (and 35% of all voters) became “the will of the people” and it soon became “unpatriotic” to deny the will of the people, an excuse trotted out to justify any change the government wanted to impose.

However, if you thought May couldn’t do anything more stupid than put such a bunch of numpties in charge of anything more important than cleaning Westminster’s loos, you were soon to be proved wrong.  Concerned that the slim majority in Parliament inherited from Dastardly Dave might leave her open to even a small backbench revolt, with a twenty point lead in the polls, May called snap election to cement her position as unchallenged Brexit supremo.  Unfortunately the only thing cemented were the shoes she was fitted with in preparation for her being thrown overboard when the Tory party decides she is no longer an asset.

Too stupid?

Unfortunately, the rest of the world was unimpressed.  For reasons that seemed to escape our government, there wasn’t a queue forming outside Westminster desperate to strike a deal which was really advantageous to the UK.  Several countries seemed more interested in striking deals with the EU, or had already done so.  As the EU market, without the UK,  is more than six times the size of the UK market, it can’t be a surprise to anyone that countries are more interested in a trade deal with the EU than with the UK.  That is, it can’t be a surprise to anyone except our current government who seem astonished that everyone wasn’t prioritising a deal with the UK over everything else.

As no one seemed to be beating a path to their door, May and her ministers were forced to take their pleadings for priority trade deals around the world.

Japan told May they were keen for a deal, but it would have to wait as they were currently too busy negotiating with the EU.  The UK would have to join the queue.

Canada were also prepared to discuss a deal, but not while the UK are still in the EU, as that’s against EU rules and Canada don’t want to irritate the EU just weeks after concluding their own trade agreement.  The UK would have to wait.

May also went to the US to hold hands with her bestest friend, Donald Trump, who promised a quick trade deal.  Unfortunately, Trump’s first act of the new arrangement was to slap a 219% tariff on aerospace parts coming from Bombardier in Belfast, not the act of a man desperate for a deal, but perhaps a taste of things to come.

Remember, during the independence referendum, when Unionists told us we would have to join a queue to get into the EU?  Well, who’s being forced to join queues now?

In addition to the reluctance of many major countries to prioritise deals with the UK, another problem the UK Government has is that it lacks the capacity to be able to conduct the separate negotiations necessary to replicate the trade agreements they already have as a part of the EU.  According to Liam Fox, the International Trade minister, this means concentrating on bigger agreements and ignoring smaller ones.  Even on the bigger ones, the UK Government wants to adopt cut and paste copycat deals, effectively replicating what they already have as a part of the EU.   You could ask where the benefit of leaving the EU comes from when the best that can be achieved is what the UK has now, and that only for bigger countries.  Unfortunately, the UK is just too wee to cope with all the changes brought on by Brexit.

The UK Government’s final problem is that it’s just too poor.  The UK has to take its place in the queue behind the more important countries, and by more important, we mean countries who can afford to trade.  UK national debt has been on a rising trend for many years, but the rate of increase has risen sharply since the Tories took office in 2010, despite an election promise to eliminate the deficit by 2015.  Debts of under £1tn when the Tories took office have increased to over £1.7tn now and are expected to reach £2tn by the end of this year.  Doubling national debt in the space of 7 years must rank as some sort of record.  I wonder if Guinness have been told?

This doubling of national debt has gone hand in hand with a decrease in the UK’s credit rating.  Remember when we were told that independence would mean the loss of our AAA rating?  Well, the latest rating issued by Moody’s shows the UK downgraded to Aa2, a rating which may well see interest charges rising on the UK’s enormous debt.  And all because nobody believes Brexit is going to improve the UK’s economy.

So the next time a Unionist makes comments about independence, just tell them that everybody else in the world thinks that it’s the UK who are too wee, too poor and too stupid.

 

 

When will they ever learn?

I am getting a bit worried about where the Indy campaign is going.  Perhaps it’s just post-holiday blues.  I know I should be grateful for getting away at all, but it’s been no fun coming back to the election aftermath, to Brexit and, worst of all, to Grenfell, possibly the worst man-made land disaster in the UK in my lifetime since Aberfan.

As the Grenfell death toll rises inexorably towards 100 and likely beyond, the truth surrounding the decisions taken by governments, both local and national, which led to a minor fire being transformed into a major catastrophe, are gradually filtering out.

Cheap cladding was specified, not because it would improve the lives of those living there, but because it would make Grenfell Tower look more attractive to the residents in the more expensive parts of the Royal Borough, the people who really counted to the local authority.  Indeed, many of the spending (or saving) decisions taken by Kensington and Chelsea council seemed more concerned with reducing the opportunity for the richer residents of the borough to come in contact with the poorer ones.

The so-called internal “improvements” in Grenfell were carried out with little regard to the structural integrity of the building and there’s significant evidence emerging that the “improvements” were at least partly responsible for the seriousness of the outcome.

However, Grenfell is not the reason I started writing this blog.  As I said above, it’s just one of the reasons why I’m perhaps feeling a bit depressed and this depression might be the root cause of what I’m going to say.

It has become generally accepted by all sides that a second Scottish independence referendum can only take place at the end of the Brexit process.  Sure there are differences between the parties as to what constitutes the end of the process.  Is it after agreement has been reached (or not reached) between the UK Government and the EU, likely in the latter half of next year?  Is it when the UK formally leaves the EU, at the end of March, 2019, unless a new date is agreed in discussions?  Or is it only once the full impact of leaving the EU becomes known, likely to be at least a decade after leaving?

However, all sides agree that, whenever the time comes, the Scottish people will be able to make an informed decision, based on the then known facts of the implications of staying as a part of the UK versus becoming an independent country.  Unionists probably hope that a longer delay will give the UK Government time to pull off a miracle and make Brexit look like the greatest thing since sliced bread, or perhaps they just think that kicking it into the long grass will give everyone the chance to forget all about this IndyRef2 malarkey.  But even independence supporters seem happy to go along with the idea, thinking that, when the terms and implications of leaving the EU become clear, many more Scots will realise what a bad deal we will get by staying as part of the UK and this will make them more likely to vote for independence.

Let’s look at this second belief in more detail.  The union has been in existence for more than 300 years.  The bulk of the Scottish people weren’t very keen on the idea, but it was pushed through by the politicians and the elites, the very ones who had most to gain from the arrangement, so, in the end, the street marches and protests were of no avail: the union went ahead as planned.

Wind forward to today.  The bulk of the Scottish people don’t favour the union, but its continued existence is being maintained by the politicians and elites who have most to gain from the current arrangement.  By the way, don’t confuse the statement above with the proportion of people who might vote to leave the UK.  Many people who voted no in the independence referendum did so out of fear for the future, not out of love for the present.

So if so many people don’t think the United Kingdom is good for Scotland, why did so many vote to stay in it in 2014 and why do opinion polls consistently show less than 50% in favour of independence?  The short answer, or answers as there are two, is/are fear and lies.

Let’s look at the lies.  You can’t survive on your own without handouts from England.  You won’t get your pension.  You’ll have to use the Euro.  You won’t get into the EU.  You won’t get into the UN.  You won’t be able to trade with any other country.  You won’t be able to afford an army or navy.  You’ll be responsible for the breakdown of world order.  You’ll be invaded by the Russians.  You’ll be invaded by aliens.  All of these and more were used by the opponents of Scottish independence.  All have been thoroughly debunked, but all had an effect on the outcome.

But why would such, in most cases, obvious nonsense make people change their minds?  The simple answer is repetition.  With a virtual monopoly of both broadcast and print media, union supporters were able to get a lie repeated time and time again, with virtually no chance that the same media would broadcast or print an opposing point of view.  Often it appeared that the media were working with each other, with a story appearing on the radio on Wednesday, being brought up in Parliament on Thursday, then repeated in the press on Friday and, to (almost) quote Mark Twain, a lie can be halfway round the world before truth has got its boots on.

For years, Scots have been told they are second class.  For years, they’ve been told they survive on handouts from England.  For years, they’ve been told they are subsidy junkies.  For years, they’ve been told they couldn’t run their own country, that they aren’t equipped to make political decisions.  Ruth Davidson, the leader of the so-called Scottish Conservatives, went even further to tell Scots that 90% of their countrymen and women are a burden on the state and that Scots are not normally put somewhere if there’s something they can steal.  This from a person who tells us she’s a “proud Scot”.  Proud to be one of a bunch of thieving, no-good layabouts?

The continued drip, drip of negativity (or at some times more like flood, flood) is what produces the fear.  Having been told so often, and by so many people, that Scots are generally useless, people fear that any change can only be change for the worse.  And when this gets repeated regularly practically all through your lifetime, is it any surprise that, deep down, you become a little afraid to make the leap into the unknown, to independence.  You might not really believe any individual story, but there’s no smoke without fire, so they say.

So unionists have been telling us lies for years and years, probably for 300 years, since the formation of the United Kingdom, though I can’t vouch for that personally, and enough Scots have been sufficiently swayed by the lies to fear change, change that they have been told can only make things worse.

So my question is: does anyone think that this will be different at the end of the Brexit process, whenever that is?  Will the media tell us how bad things might become for the UK after a Brexit on terms much worse than we have now, or will they tell us that this is just the first step to a brighter future?  Will they tell us that every good outcome from the talks shows the brilliance of UK negotiating, or will they say it’s just a practical necessity?  Will they place the blame for any poor outcome on the UK government or will they blame Johnny Foreigner?  Do we really think the media will not be supportive of whatever is the outcome of the negotiations?

If nothing changes in the media, if the media continue to praise the UK position and continue to tell us only what the politicians and elites want us to hear about the Brexit negotiations, why would we think that the Scots taken in by the lies and the spin in 2014, those who feared change in the last referendum, are going to react differently this time and be able to see clearly that staying a part of post-Brexit UK is not in their best interests.

Unfortunately, as things are going, I can’t see a post-Brexit independence referendum producing a better result.  As I said at the start, perhaps it’s just post-holiday blues, but I fear that, no matter how bad the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the MSM will make sure the Scots who didn’t see it last time won’t see it this time either.  So those of us who want independence need to think of a more radical approach than the current let’s wait and see how Brexit turns out.

Getting out of hand, Brexit style

It was David Cameron’s idea.  I suppose a lot of the Tories’ really bad ideas can be traced to Davie.

“I know how we can get rid of those nasty UKipper Little Englanders for good.  They are dead against the EU, but we can adopt their policies and their language and replace them with good solid Tory Little Englanders who will also be dead against the EU, but, at least, they’ll be our Little Englanders and, if push comes to shove, they’ll vote for us.  We’ll have a referendum on staying in the EU and, when we win, that’ll put UKIP’s gas at a peep and get rid of them as a threat for a generation”

You would have thought he could have learned a lesson from Scottish devolution.  Remember when George Robertson (now Lord Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie) told us that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead.  I wonder how that worked out, George.

Unfortunately for Davie, he had reckoned without a number of factors.

Firstly, he forgot the mainly right-wing media’s history of rubbishing the EU at every turn, pandering to a Little Englander agenda, spinning every EU decision in as bad a light as possible and making up stories if they couldn’t get a real one.  Straight bananas anyone?  Were the media likely to support remaining in the EU?  No chance, and that’s how it turned out.

Secondly, he forgot the years of effort our right-wing media have put into telling us that all foreigners are awful.  Foreigners who might make decisions that we Brits would have to pay attention to are awful, but foreigners who want to come to the UK because we have bombed their countries back into the Stone Age are even worse, much, much worse.  The media tells us the immigrants (they’re not refugees, of course) are only coming over here  to steal our jobs, occupy our houses, use up our NHS resources and take advantage of our benefit system.  All just because we and our American pals have bombed their house, killed their neighbours and generally destroyed the area they used to call home.  What sort of reason is that to want you and your family to move somewhere safe and liveable.

Thirdly, he forgot that the Brexiteers could invent largely illusory benefits to be gained by leaving the EU and, with the help of the media, these “benefits” would be the ones that would stick in voters’ minds.  I’m sure everyone remembers the £350M/week to be spent on the NHS.  Unfortunately, putting it on a bus turned out to be much easier than putting it on the NHS.

Fourthly, he forgot to have a list of benefits for staying in the EU.  Always going to be a hard sell because of the first factor, it was made much worse by the Remain crew virtually completely confining their arguments to trying to rubbish the Brexiteers’ claims.

And lastly, he forgot the attraction to many of returning control and decision-making to the UK Parliament and the UK courts.  With years of rubbishing the EU behind them, people have been conditioned to believe that the EU isn’t democratic because we don’t always get our own way, that we pay a fortune into the EU and get almost nothing back and that every EU decision is stupid and anti-British.  Mind you, this makes what happened shortly after the referendum even less understandable.  But more of that later.

So, much to everyone’s surprise, the outcome was a win for Brexit, something no one in Government wanted, not even the Brexiteers, who, it turned out, were only trying to engineer a sufficiently close result to give the UK a bit more leverage in subsequent negotiations with the EU.  To complicate matters further, of the four countries in the UK, only two, England and Wales voted to leave, while the other two, Scotland and Northern Ireland, voted to stay, as did Gibraltar.  The differing and often conflicting expectations of each country are creating real problems for Theresa May, who replaced Davie as PM after he decided there were better (and more lucrative) things he could do now that the referendum wasn’t going to plan.

What wasn’t planned (I don’t think) was that the language used by the Brexiteers, anti-EU, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee would effectively give permission for the public to speak, and sometimes act, in the same way.  The weeks after the referendum saw a substantial increase in hate crimes, mainly in England it appears, with foreign UK residents and even visitors being harassed, abused and even physically attacked.

So where are we now?  Brexit means Brexit; a phrase that’s been on almost everyone’s lips over the last few months.  So said Theresa May when asked for a full explanation of the UK Government’s strategy for negotiation with the EU.  The Government refused to tell anyone what their negotiation strategy would be on the basis that they wouldn’t reveal their hand in advance of the negotiations themselves.  However, many unkind people suggested it more likely that they were keeping it a secret because to reveal their strategy would have shown that Brexit means Brexit was all of it.  For a government of a party that prides itself in its organisation, it is almost unbelievable that they could have been so complacent, so sure of victory, that they didn’t even bother to think what they would do if the vote went against them.

Not only did the UK Government refuse to tell the public what their strategy was, but they initially refused to allow Parliament to debate the terms.  It was their intention to use the Royal Prerogative decide on the timing and strategy, without involving parliament until after the decision had been taken.  Many were unhappy about this and, as a result, a small group decided to go to court to force the Government to seek parliamentary approval for both timing and strategy before triggering article 50.

When the court’s decision came down, that approval of parliament is a requirement, there was an astonishing outpouring of bile from politicians, the public, and, in particular, from the media, especially the right wing press.  They had insisted during the EU referendum campaign that they wanted to bring decision-making back to the UK to prevent the nasty foreigners in the EU Parliament and the European Court making decisions for us.  Now we had an example of English judges in an English court applying English law and deciding that the UK parliament (you could even say the English parliament) should have the final decision on the Brexit terms.  Wasn’t that what the referendum was all about?  Wasn’t that what 17m people voted for?  But no, many were distinctly unhappy, even incandescent with rage.  How dare these unelected judges try to overturn the will of the people they said, apparently unaware (or not caring) that the judges had only decided that Article 50 couldn’t be triggered without a vote in Parliament.

But their disagreement with the verdict was not the most worrying aspect of the coverage.  What was most worrying was not he fact that the media were annoyed, but it was the tone of the way they covered the verdict.

d-mail-judges      First we had the Daily Mail printing photographs of the judges and calling them “Enemies of the People”, describing one as a Europhile (how awful), one as someone who has made a lot of money through an association with Tony Blair (now that is awful) and a third as an openly gay ex-fencer (what can be said about such a comment in 2016). The Daily Mail weren’t the only ones to print photographs of the judges as the Telegraph did as well (a so called quality paper).  Short of printing the judges’ home addresses and explicitly calling for members of the public to sort them out, what more could they have done to stir up trouble.

sun-judges        Well, what they could have done what the Sun did, describe the group of people who took the action as rich foreigners (a bit ironic when printed alongside a photo of a woman married into one of the richest families  in the UK, or is it only British women that are allowed to be rolling in the stuff) and printed a photograph of one of the group specially darkened down to make her look really, really foreign.

two-faces  Compare the photo from the Sun on the left with the (nearly) identical one in the Times on the right.  I suppose it’s not really surprising for the Sun to do this as another article in the paper described how the proportion of white people living in some English towns has allegedly reduced over the last 20 or so years.  When did the Sun become the house magazine for the Ku Klux Klan?

Cheered on by politicians and the media lying about the court case, pretending that the intention was to overturn the result of the referendum, the situation got really out of hand.  Death threats and other abusive remarks were scattered around like confetti, aimed at anyone perceived to be on the “other side”, because anyone on the “other side” was an “enemy of the people”. ( It must be true, I read it in the Daily Mail).  People were said to be in hiding for fear of attack.  Politicians (mainly UKippers to be honest) called for the judges to be sacked for applying the law and for judges in future to be chosen by the government.  Bang goes the impartial judiciary then.  Who needs it?  It was perhaps indicative of the way things are going that the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, when finally forced to make a statement, refused to condemn the attacks on the judges.  I thought that the Lord Chancellor was supposed to be on the side of the judges, not the lunatic fringe of the press.  Perhaps she’s on the side of the judges in the same way Fluffy Mundell is on Scotland’s side.

What confuses me is the real objective of the media.  It certainly appears that they are trying to stir up trouble, even encourage violence, but to what end?  What would they hope to gain from such a situation?  Should there be violence, would they sell more copies, or is there some other advantage?  Or is this nothing to do with the media, but more to do with the owners of the media.  Do the mega-rich types who own most of the media in this country have a plan to turn the situation to their advantage?  Will civil unrest allow them to make changes which will benefit them and, by implication, disadvantage the rest of us.

It’s difficult to see how this will all turn out, but it’s hard to imagine that Brexit is going to benefit the UK economy, the relationships with our neighbours or the UK culture.  If only someone could think of some way that we in Scotland could avoid all the problems the UK will be facing over the coming years.  Any ideas?