Scotland’s sense of ‘we just can’t’ has to be overcome

The other day on Twitter I had an interesting chat in regards a painful part of the Scottish character prompted by this post.

There’s a Scottish character trait that is self-defeating, which is bad, but what’s worse is that trait is made with because we make mythology of glorious failure. From the numerous failed  World Cup campaigns, through to failing life expectancies, Scotland accepts its fate like a condemned man walking down the corridor to the gas chamber. We’ve been inbuilt to accept our fate and to accept failure as ‘well, that’s how it is’.

It’s one of the things that made me leave Scotland in 1988. I couldn’t accept a future where my lot in life is accepted as ‘how it’s supposed to be’ because my ambition was curtailed in a social and cultural way. Things have changed to be fair but that attitude of just accepting what life has given you still persists, and although things like the independence campaign has energised people we still have politicians coming out with lines such as ”Scots are not genetically programmed to make political decisions”.

On coming back to Scotland I see this attitude challenged, mainly with younger people who’ve not had Labour or any other part of the Scottish establishment drill into them their depressing poison but things are still slow moving and this attitude keeps people unthinking, and worse, people in poverty or suffering because they’ve been told all their life to just shut up and suck it up.

Fuck. That. We have to change and we have to do it sooner rather than later.

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Hope lies in the proles

crowdThe Northern Ireland elections are normally something people in the wider UK totally ignore as after all, there’s no spectacular shots of violence for editors to run, but this one this year has been of special interest in the wake of Brexit. Unionist parties have taken a kicking while other parties have been united in their opposition of Brexit which has paid dividends at the ballot box. Effectively people from the various communities put old divisions behind them for a united cause.

In the meantime Theresa May comes to Glasgow for the Scottish Tory Party conference talking of ‘our precious Union’ after last week where Labour came to Scotland to call former voters ‘racists’. So we’re not in an official Independence referendum campaign but we’re certainly in the warm-up phase where lines are being drawn though this time Northern Ireland is lurking offstage to the left waving and throwing paper planes at the back of Theresa May’s head.

At the heart of this there’s a fear from the Unionist side that perhaps the ordinary people (the same they pretend to speak for) are turning from the old myths of a United Kingdom that works for all and instead, are looking at alternatives. In the case of the Northern Irish election and the prospect of a second referendum it’s about people tired of an outdated Unionist ideology trying to make a better future that isn’t steeped in myths of British unity that really, is about a British state that serves a few and makes serfs of many.

For Northern Ireland to move forward to whatever future lies ahead and for Scotland to have a second referendum that’s won it will be people from all backgrounds, race, religions and nationalities that will give birth to hopefully a better future. In the midst of all of what’s going on we’re seeing little glimmers of a better possible world forming that stands aside from the hate and bile of blood and soil nationalists like Theresa May.

Calling Scottish independence supporters ‘racist’ is depressing and pathetic

The last few days has seen some serious ramping up of rhetoric in the debate over Scottish independence with Saddiq Khan’s comments about Scottish independence supporters being racists. As has been pointed out, Labour don’t get to occupy the moral high ground here and yesterday saw a remarkable article published in the Guardian written by Clare Heuchan which stated that there was clear links between Scottish independence and racism who has flounced off Twitter after ‘fearing for her safety’.

Truth is she was exposed online as a Better Together supporter and a very devout British nationalist.

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Now if Heuchan is being abused that’s to be condemned and those who fire racist and sexist abuse need to be prosecuted, but that’s a different thing from the article which she wrote which isn’t objective, plays into Khan’s frankly cowardly rhetoric (and he should know better) and seems to clearly be part of how bad things have got where at least people who supported independence were love-bombed rather than called ‘racists’ for wanting self-determination and a better place to live.

Heuchan is however right to say Scotland has a history of racism. Scots of Irish descent over the centuries have had to deal with that (not that Heuchan even touches on that as you’d expect from someone defending the British state) but as Paul Kavanagh points out here, Scots come from a position of coloniser and colonised. It was not just morally dishonest for the Guardian not to divulge her political intelligences but it makes it clear that the ‘Nats are racist’ angle is being played up now in an attempt to not just alienate potential independence supporters, but in the case independence is actually won it’s an attempt to leave social divisions that future Scottish governments may have to face.

Yet here we are. It is clear a positive case for the Union will not be delivered and people like me will be painted as drooling English-hating racists who want some sort of Rhineland of Northern Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I never used to think Scottish independence viable, or desirable. I thought that although the UK was a corrupt state with a terrible imperial past, the union was the best way to protect the most vulnerable. Upon closer study of what was happening in Scotland while I was still living in Bristol showed me that independence wasn’t about ‘flag-waving nationalists hating the English’ but something else more akin to a movement for self-determination and gaining political power for people in Scotland. The fact it’d land a mortal blow on the British state which, hopefully, change things for people across the UK. Independence for Scotland for me is about a political solution to people’s problems as well as ending something I think is broken and that serves nobody but the few. I remain of the opinion the independence movement is a rich and diverse one.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t bigots and arseholes there who do hate the English. As in any movement there are extremes, but it seems the extremes of the independence movement are generally people likes the Scottish Resistance; a loopy fringe. The extremes of Unionism are the Orange Order, the EDL/SDL, Britain First and every blood and soil nationalist fit to wave a Union Jack. The latter is barely reported in the Scottish or UK media in terms of the abuse they fire out in this argument. People like Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and various other figures in the independence movement (while the Claire Heauchan story broke an SNP councillor has been talking about the abuse her and her children have been receiving) and SNP are regularly abused and threatened with rape and death but there’s a lack in equivocal reporting.

Of course many people outwith Scotland do look past the bullshit and make their own minds up. Here’s and example from Barney Farmer, the writer of The Drunken Bakers in Viz Comic.

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The EU referendum saw an MP murdered by a member of the far right. The Scottish independence referendum saw isolated incidents ranging from the egg thrown at Jim Murphy to far right thugs rioting in George Square on the 19/9/14.

Last November I moved back to Glasgow after 28 years of living in England to recover from a stroke and finish my fight against cancer, so I’m here in Glasgow recuperating for a few months. I’ve fine-tuned my opinions on Scottish independence to the extent where I firmly believe it offers a final last chance to save the people of Scotland from the insanity of Brexit, but at the same time I’m going to pull up any Indy supporters being racist or sexist arseholes. I also don’t have time for those wanting UDI as that isn’t going to convince those reluctant to become independent that we’re democratic and I refuse to believe every Unionist is a flag-waving lunatic spitting out hate as that’s just as bad as what we’re accused of as Indy supporters. I just want a better Scotland for people living here and I don’t care where you’re from or what race or religion you are.

As we get nearer Brexit actually happening the stakes are ramping up. Unionists will be using every single dirty tactic under the sun and those firing out accusations of ‘racist’ while they themselves can’t recognise what they are is a depressing development as it diminishes actual victims of racism, and indeed, skims over the real issues Scotland has to deal with in regards religious bigotry and the racism that sadly lives everywhere.

We’re at a crucial phase in history. Brexit takes the UK down a hard right path where human rights become a thing of the past and the most vulnerable (and for now, that includes people like me) are having their lives threatened by a cruel Tory government and there won’t be a left wing paradise coming from Corbyn’s Labour who seems to glory more in ‘The Struggle‘ than actually wanting things to be done. I want a better world, and for that to happen we have to start small and convince other countries it can be done and for me, the only way to do that in these islands is Scottish independence breaking the British state and not just providing Scotland with self-determination but hopefully people across the UK realise the issue and themselves demand real change rather than a soundbite.

However calling people who believe in a better world ‘racist’ for wanting where they live to be better is a pathetically low, not to mention, cowardly, tactic. It’s a tactic designed to provoke as we’re at the stage where the British state will quite literally do anything to preserve it, which with no campaign actually started as yet is worrying as to how low this will go.Independence supporters need to not take the bait and remain above this, but at the same time we shouldn’t let it pass without comment and this for me is about putting this into my own personal context. I’m not a racist. I want Scottish independence. I find those equating both to be cowards and liars but I want to speak to people either unconvinced, undecided and even Unionists in debate rather than sit there spitting out hate which solves nothing apart from giving these diehard extremists exactly what they want. We need to rise above that and carry on positively or we’ll not get that glimmer of a better Scotland for all of us living here.

How does the Supreme Court Brexit ruling affect the campaign for Scottish Independence?

Today the  UK Supreme Court ruled that the UK parliament has to vote to approve Article 50 (the legislation which triggers the UK’s two year long divorce from the EU) which effectively means the government has to put forward a bill and MP’s vote on it. So will unelected peers in the House of Lords but the UK’s creaking constitution allows this. There’s also the trifling matter that the devolved countries of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) saw their court cases that Article 50 can’t be invoked without votes approving it in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh thrown out.

At this point it’s best to read this splendid Iain McWhirter piece which explains this in detail but contains such information of importance I’m quoting a big chunk of it…

LEGISLATIVE consent may sound like another of those tiresome lawyer’s phrases; it’s anything but. Lack of it could stall Brexit, trigger an independence referendum or even break up the Union.

Legislative consent is what used to be called the Sewel Convention, under which the Scottish Parliament has a right to vote on actions of Westminster that impinge on its powers. Today, the UK Supreme Court will address whether or not Holyrood has a right of consent on Article 50, triggering Brexit.

The UK Government is adamant that it should not, and that the Scottish Parliament has no right to interfere. Anyway, the constitution is reserved to Westminster. Advocates of legislative consent, including the Scottish Government, argue that Holyrood certainly should have a say because Brexit will massively affect Holyrood’s powers. Under the Scotland Act 1998, Scottish legislation has to be in accordance with EU law, and this will end when the European Communities Act is repealed.

Moreover, in the Scotland Act 2016, the Sewel Convention was supposedly put on a “statutory basis”, as part of the post referendum “vow” on entrenching Holyrood’s powers. Most people believed this meant that there was now a legal obligation for Holyrood to give its assent to changes to its powers. But no.

The UK Government had inserted a weasel word into the Act. It says that “Westminster will not NORMALLY legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament” Since Brexit is not “normal” then legislative consent doesn’t apply

Effectively this means this: The centre of political power in the UK is Westminster. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are essentially regions with glorified councils calling themselves ‘parliaments’ and ‘assemblies’. These can be swept aside because as McWhirter points out;

Under the Scotland Act 1998, Scottish legislation has to be in accordance with EU law, and this will end when the European Communities Act is repealed.

The Great Repeal Bill the Tories talk about will bring all EU legislation into UK law to be then kept or dumped depending upon whatever Westminster says. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the devolved countries could find their own powers being taken back, or indeed, scrapped for central rule, and yes, the Northern Powerhouse plans to devolve power to big northern English areas is window dressing. Legal political power in the UK is at the discretion of Westminster who are not obliged to do anything the devolved governments (though really, they’re not governments) say which means all those solemn vows of 2014 meant nothing, or as McWhirter puts it;

Moreover, in the Scotland Act 2016, the Sewel Convention was supposedly put on a “statutory basis”, as part of the post referendum “vow” on entrenching Holyrood’s powers. Most people believed this meant that there was now a legal obligation for Holyrood to give its assent to changes to its powers. But no.

The UK Government had inserted a weasel word into the Act. It says that “Westminster will not NORMALLY legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament” Since Brexit is not “normal” then legislative consent doesn’t apply. Ha, ha – Scots should have read the act more carefully.

Scotland had the chance to make it’s own successes and failures. It had the chance to make a future of its own. It didn’t, choosing instead to stay in the Union, yet that Union which promised ‘Scotland’s voice will be heard louder than ever before’ lied. It sold you a stinky kipper when you were expecting fresh salmon.

Essentially we’re at this stage…

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So what do we do about it? Well, some MPs are going to vote against invoking Article 50 but there won’t be enough thanks to the sheer lunacy of Jeremy Corbyn telling his MP’s to vote it through which hands the Tories a massive advantage because anyone who thinks they’ll be able to influence the Tories once Article 50 is invoked is a fool, or is someone who wants to leave the EU themselves. Forget that leaving will drive those people Labour say they speak for into virtual serfdom as the Brexiters vision of a tax haven emerges from the wreckage of Brexit. Outdated ideology is Corbyn’s mantra it seems which brings us to this point…

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There’s not a lot of options on the table now. The ball is in Westminster’s court as to whether they take into account the Scottish Government’s Brexit proposals (hint: they won’t) but with elections in Northern Ireland looming the United Kingdom is under threat.

See, the thing is in 2014 there was a culmination of years of debate and argument which was won partly based upon Scotland’s EU membership with articles like this ensuring enough scares were given to coax people to vote for the safer, more secure option as after all, Westminster wouldn’t lie or disregard Scotland would they?

Guess where we are now?

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I asked the question what the Supreme Court ruling means for Scottish independence and for me, it’s very simple; it makes it essential. The ruling makes federalism impossible as after all, if federalism is to happen not only would England need broken up to deal with the inequalities in size (won’t happen) then Westminster would need to permanently give powers away so they can never be seized back and that isn’t going to happen. Essentially devolution is a scam. It’s like going on Poundland’s website and realising everything isn’t a pound.

A second referendum is essential not just for the democracy of Scotland, but for all the four countries of the UK. Forget the angry independence supporters talking of UDI or worse, as we win independence peacefully and legally or we forget it. We have to convince both people that voted no and people on the fence that Scotland as a country needs to make it’s own democratic decisions. My hope is if/when Scotland achieves independence it pulls the last block out of the entire broken British state which comes down crumbling like a giant game of Jenga. When it does, then something new and better can be created for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assuming of course we’ve not seen Irish unification by then.

Scotland is at a crossroads now. Patience is needed. There are diehard Unionists spitting flecks of rage and anger online as they know today is a turning point. They know that promises are meaningless as after all, the Supreme Court has shown this, so here’s the thing. Take today not as a day to get angry, but channel that anger into something useful. Do you know someone who voted No in 2014? Great, now talk to them rationally and ask them what they think of the ruling? Ask them if they’re happy their kids, or the generations after them, will be growing up with social justice and equality as things they read about in books? Know someone not sure what to do or showing no understanding of the connotations of today? Great, sit them down and go through it with them. Point out the issues. Ask them what they think.

Because if independence supporters don’t sell independence to no voters or those undecided (there will be those 25% or so who’ll never,ever vote for independence and they can be ignored or avoided) this is going to happen to the next generation, and the next and the next and the next. You get the idea.

There will never be a greater weapon in the armoury for independence than today. We can use it wisely. I suggest we do because we’re going to need it when a second referendum does happen, and it will. For now though, be patient and be calm. This is a long game and if it’s lost next time, it’s lost for generations.

The first Scottish independence referendum was held and lost two years ago today

Two years ago today the people of Scotland went to the polls to answer the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’. They said no, voting 55% to 45% to stay part of the United Kingdom and I’d imagine a lot of people went through that first weekend thinking that was it. Scottish independence was dead and Scotland would take whatever’s coming down from Westminster.

Then the day after, the celebrations started…

Looking at the video above is a fascinating glimpse into what spurred independence back on the agenda that weekend. The violence from No supporters that day remains something defenders of the Union have never, ever addressed mainly because they can’t. If they accept that then they accept the violent nature of the some Unionist supporters.

But within hours of the No vote the debate shifted from Scotland to England, and the likes of Nigel Farage decided to kick Scotland down to the ground in the early hours of the 19th September.

It’s interesting to see two years later hearing Farage’s comments as they paved the way for the debate from the more staunch defenders of the UK. ”Scottish MPs should shut up’ being one of many frequent mantras, as is the idea the independence campaign was violent and thuggish on the Yes side. Again, here’s Nigel Farage showing the way..

I’m an subjective commentator, but if you’re objective there’s no way to listen to Farage’s words without noticing the rather obvious dislike of Scotland and the hypocrisy of his own criticisms, but what’s depressing is how quickly these comments became assimilated into the anti-independence mantra.

Of course even on the weekend of the result people didn’t give up and for some the fight continued..

Fact is independence should have died that weekend. It should have resulted in people giving up, but it didn’t. The promises made to gain a No vote crumbled in the weeks, months and years after the result, benefiting not just the SNP who had seen Alex Salmond stand down and replaced by Nicola Sturgeon as leader, but the Greens to such an extent that right now in the Scottish Parliament there is a majority of MSP’s who support independence.

One of the last big promises made to keep Scotland in the Union was its membership of the EU, something now under threat thanks to the oncoming storm that is Brexit, the key Nigel Farage policy outwith of xenophobia and racism.

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In the wake of the EU referendum polls showed an increase of support for an independent Scotland with even the staunchly Unionist Daily Record suggesting they’d back Sturgeon if she went for a second referendum.

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There’s now a situation where a second referendum is on the cards with timing being the issue as after all, although polls now three months on from the EU referendum show support for independence to be fairly static, the polls in the few weeks after show that in the right circumstances and with the right arguments enough people will support independence. That’s something I imagine not lost upon Unionists or indeed, Brexit supporters who realise that next time the status quo is going to be whatever half-arsed cobbled together deal Theresa May will have gotten from the EU, and just how bad Brexit has spun out. There’s no way that the status quo won’t be a Tory one.

Before though anybody says ‘what about Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’? Well, what about them? Corbyn’s not impressed at all in regards to Scotland showing himself to simply have picked up exactly the same rhetoric Ed Milliband used but we have now a Labour leader who supports Irish unity, is a left winger and would tell you the history of the left and the current political state of various countries in Central or South America but is without a clue in regards a country a few hundred miles from where he lives. I’m more than sympathetic to how he’s being attacked by the media, but he’s not the messiah many on the English left think he is to revive Labour in Scotland.

As for Labour, they’re considering going into partnership with the Tories to help them retain Glasgow council next year, something which would kill off any remaining credibility the party clings to in Scotland.

There’s no sign Brexit will start this year. Theresa May’s said invoking the mechanism to start that process, Article 50, isn’t going to happen til 2017. Rumour is that may well be early in 2017, though the EU themselves are getting itchy and want the UK gone and countries like Japan and the US have made it clear they’re not going to hang around waiting for the UK to sort themselves out so are carrying on business with the EU without us. Any deal May might get looks set to be vetoed unless the UK grants free movement which won’t please racists like Nigel Farage, so Scotland faces a choice; stay in the UK and be dragged into whatever grim resurgent imperialistically xenophobic future awaits, or leaving the UK to make it’s own future.

That future won’t be won by aping the actions or rhetoric of Unionists, it’ll only happen if Yes voters channel that excitement, positivity, intelligence and drive towards speaking to No voters or undecided voters. That’s something happening today in Glasgow as the Yes Movement starts gearing up for what will be a very different campaign to that which was lost in September 2014. That time saw a 30-35% lead whittled down to 10%. This time sees the Union side with a 5-10% lead and a volatile situation out of their control with Brexit showing that the ‘stable status quo’ may well not be what people want.

Two years on a second referendum looks winnable if things slot into place right, or it could be lost ending any hope of independence in my lifetime, probably of the lifetime of the generation after me. The stakes next time are far too high to rush into a referendum where if lost, leaves Scotland at the mercy of people who like think Nigel Farage for generations and we won’t have the EU or human rights legislation to temper their worst excesses.

So today, two years on there’s hope. This could be the start of something amazing…

What does Wings Over Scotland’s Twitter suspension tell us about Unionists?

The Twitter suspension of Wings Over Scotland is over and normal services is resumed, though Daily Express ‘journalist’ Siobhan McFadyen continues to hysterically paint independence/SNP as violent abusive thugs. For someone who works for the gutter press she either has ridiculously thin skin or this is all being manufactured for an article or both, though her increasingly unhinged posting as resulted in this quality comeback from The National.

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McFadyen being somewhat humourless seems to have missed the humour in the comment choosing instead to endless mention how she’s contacted the police, re-Tweet Twitter’s share price and angrily respond to people who are asking her questions in a calm manner. It’s almost as if she doesn’t understand the technology she’s using or likes the two-way aspect of Twitter.

But what does this tell us of Unionists?

It’s another example of just how insane, not to mention either fascistic or authoritarian they’re becoming. One of the reasons I’ve not really done many politics blogs at the minute is because since the EU referendum politics across the UK is a mess, nobody has a clue what’s happening (anyone who say they do is a lying bastard) and there’s a rising level of fear, anger and entitlement from a hardening section of Unionists who know that a second Scottish independence referendum is for them, something they may lose.

What did stand out yesterday were those who may obviously support the Union but decried the suspension for what it was; a deeply illiberal and manufactured act from a ‘journalist’ working for a hard to far right newspaper, the Daily Express. It shows a certain recognition that there’s an extreme element in Unionism that isn’t liberal and that some opponents of independence are more reasonable than one would have previously considered. Then of course there’s Andrew Neil

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Neil and others like him lumber around like dinosaurs aware that an asteroid is coming that may possibly render them extinct and are raging at the sky in the hope that their cries of entitled anguish stop it from hitting them. If, or indeed when a second referendum happens it’s going to be a vastly more polarised affair than last time but what does concern me is the way many Unionists seem intent on creating an air of potential violence which drags me back to Siobhan McFadyen who is indicative of these type of people.

Independence supporters and SNP voters/members (the two are not mutually inclusive) have to not give these people any excuses and they’re not, so this angers the likes of McFadyen or Neil even more. See, I think they want violence in the streets. They want people to be hurt as long as they support independence or vote SNP. There’s risky times ahead for all and what we now know is how far some will go, who will rightfully call out a wrong and how some will carry on and on in the hope they smear all and sundry.

Til we find out what Brexit actually is, we’re in this phase. When things start to become clear then things will really ramp up so let’s be careful and be aware that the most vocal or insistent supporters of the British state are the right to far right who will do or say anything to make their opponents look like the worst in society, yet they can’t see their own actions make them themselves the worst in society. Especially those working for the likes of the Daily Express.

What the Great British Haggis tells us about the UK

This is the Great British Haggis.

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Now, you may wonder why this is a ‘British’ haggis, not a Scottish haggis seeing as haggis is so intertwined with Scotland as part of its culture, even identity?

Of course the first thing I did upon seeing this in my social media feed was,as a Scot, to ask ‘what the fuck is this?’. After all it is only two years since the Scottish independence referendum, and the United Kingdom has been desperately stamping it’s identity over everything it can in the years since.

But after a wee cup of tea I had a think. What if this is just a branding exercise? After all this picture was taken in an airport from the account on social media, and whether we like it or not, Scotland’s still part of the UK, even if it looks exceptionally odd. So I checked out if this is being done to other foodstuffs, in this case the Melton Mowbray pork pie. It is.

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I then thought to look at another traditionally English dish, the humble faggot.

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There’s lots of examples of dishes with their cultural heritage based in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland being branded not with the flag of their own country, but of the UK. Now I’m not saying there’s a sinister plot by Unionists to brand all food with the Union Jack, but there isn’t. Yeah, it looks weird, and in an opaque way it is roughly branding part of Scottish culture with a Union brand, but that’s happening elsewhere in the UK too.

Now there is an issue with those people who use the term UK or Britain to refer to England only, but seeing as they tend to be dicks we’ll move on. What I’m saying is lets not get our knickers in a twist about this when there’s far more important things to kick off about with Brexit coming up at some point in the future. It is annoying, but I’m sure there’s people in deepest Leicestershire pissed off their pork pies don’t have an English flag slapped on them.

This is a bigger point that just Scotland, this is the Union imposing a blanket branding on anything ‘British’, even if like haggis or pork pies it’s not associated with British, but Scotland and England. It is however making waves online but this is a point in time when politics is essentially in a phoney war til we find the braincell in Theresa May’s cabinet that knows what ‘Brexit’ is, so this type of story does the rounds over and over.