I thought I’d write a more personal blog article this time, so that you can all know what my plans are for the coming months. Readers, I’m getting married. My partner Peter and I have set a date, the wedding will be on Friday 26th October and will be celebrated on the coast of the US state of Maine, where most of Peter’s family come from originally. He’ll be coming back with me to Scotland afterwards for a week, and we’ll be having a second celebration here in Scotland for our friends and family on this side of the Atlantic who aren’t able to make it to the USA. Then he’ll have to return to the USA, and we’ll start on the arduous and ridiculously expensive process of getting him a visa to live with me here in Scotland. All going well we hope that can happen sometime next year.
This is going to be my first “proper” wedding. My late partner Andy and I had a wee party to celebrate holding an entirely unofficial humanist wedding that we had back in the early 1990s, but that ceremony was not legally recognised. When, many years later, we had a civil partnership it felt as though it was just a matter of regularising some paperwork. This time, Peter and I will be having a real wedding. Naturally we’re both wearing kilts. He’s coming over here in the summer in order to get fitted for one. I told him that weddings are not legally recognised in Scotland unless you wear a kilt. He believed me for all of five seconds.
This is not an easy time to try and bring a foreign spouse into the UK, and I have never despised the Conservatives more than I do just now. Their policy of making life as difficult as possible for migrants separates families, separates loved ones, and means that only those who are wealthy can have the confidence of knowing that they can live in the UK with their spouse. It’s very easy when you’re Prince Harry and Megan Markle. It’s not so easy for the rest of us.
On top of the cost of the wedding, which is going to run into a few thousand even though we’re trying to keep things simple, it’s going to cost £1600 in payments to the Home Office for a spouse visa, a further £600 in fees to the NHS so that Peter is eligible for health cover, and around a further £1500 in legal fees. That’s some £3700 which is on top of the £18600 annual income that you need to prove to the Home Office that you’re earning before they’ll even consider an application for a spouse visa. The Home Office won’t take into account my partner’s earning potential, it’s all dependent on the income and earnings of the British citizen. What’s really annoying is that he is highly skilled, he works in IT, and is precisely the kind of person that Scotland needs. He can earn considerably more than I can, but the Home Office won’t take any of that into account. He’s not going to be a drain on public resources, he’s going to be an active contributor.
I recognise that I’m in a far more fortunate situation than many because it is possible, albeit difficult, for me to fulfil the Home Office’s heartless criteria. I know of a woman who has a small child. Her husband, the child’s father, isn’t able to live in the UK, and because she’s got childcare commitments she’s unable to earn anything like enough to get her husband into the UK. That’s the reality of Theresa May’s “hostile environment”. It means children separated from parents, it means families split up. It means lovers who have to keep their relationships alive through Facebook and Skype.
So I’m in for a very expensive year, and it’s not easy earning a living as a writer and commentator on Scottish politics from a pro-independence perspective. Just ask Hardip Singh Kohli. In a recent talk he confirmed what many of us have suspected for some time, that the BBC has an active blacklist of pro-independence activists whom it will not invite onto its news and current affairs programmes. We’re biased, and that’s why the BBC doesn’t want to give us air time. Naturally people who oppose independence aren’t biased at all. Oh no.
Hardip’s own name is on that list, and I’m pretty certain that mine is too. It’s not just that we are unable to earn the appearance fee that you get from going on the telly, it’s also that we don’t get the publicity and name recognition amongst the public that comes from it. It makes it harder for us to get writing and other gigs from other media outlets because we don’t get the same exposure that British nationalists get. It makes it harder for us to get our message across to the wider public. It makes it a lot harder for us to make a living out of writing and commentating. And that’s precisely why the BBC bans us. They want to marginalise the cause of independence and silence independence supporters. Personally I wear it as a badge of pride. If you want to know why independence campaigners are more likely to rely on crowdfunding than opponents of independence, this has a lot to do with it.
In order to boost my earnings and ensure that I can keep the Home Office happy and pay for the wedding and the visa and associated fees, I’m going to produce some new stuff for sale. I’d far rather offer something concrete for sale than to ask for donations. Asking for donations and doing crowdfunders only seems to breed resentment amongst people who are less successful at it. That doesn’t mean I’m not grateful and appreciative for the support that so many readers of this blog show me. It means a lot to me.
I earn money from writing for The National, but that is nowhere near enough to take me over the Home Office’s earnings threshold. I’m planning to publish a couple of new books later this year. There’s going to be a third volume of Barking Up the Right Tree published by Vagabond Voices, an anthology of articles which previously appeared in The National. And there’s also going to be a self-published collection of my articles from iScot magazine. I’m also looking into producing some other merchandise, and have been discussing with Chris Cairns the possibility of him doing a cartoon of the Dug which we can put on t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise. I’m also planning to do a revised and corrected version of the Gaelic map of the whole of Scotland.
The bottom line is – I need to earn some money, because I’m not Prince Harry. No one is giving my partner a free pass to come and live in the UK. I’ve got to pay for it. I’ll keep you all posted about the progress of the books and the merchandise. In the meantime, the four volumes of The Collected Yaps and the first two volumes of Barking Up the Right Tree are still available online, and Gaelic maps of Glasgow, Kintyre & Arran, and Fife are available for sale when I do public talks. Just email me for details.
Grassroots is what the independence movement does best. British nationalism is about keeping people out of the country, Scottish nationalism is about bringing people in. British nationalism is about creating a hostile environment for migrants, Scottish nationalism is about creating a welcoming one. I hope you’ll help me to increase the immigration statistics by at least one.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
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