Are we really a nation of equality and fairness?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 24th 2015

Scotland is one of the hot subjects of the moment.

This is true even in places that usually ignore us – such as Westminster. One take from the centre-left Compass pressure group is that Scotland is the progressive future they would like to see across the UK. Another from disgruntled Labourites wants to get even with the SNP for taking so many parliamentary colleagues from them.

It feels good to be talked about. But actually these voices aren’t really interested in Scotland. Instead, they are talking about themselves, and their sense of bewilderment and loss, confusion over England, and anxiety about Labour and the left’s future prospects.

The British Election Survey this week highlighted data from late last year which showed that in that crucial swing group of voters, Labour to SNP, 75% believed the SNP had policies to redistribute from rich to poor, while only 48% thought the same of Labour. Read the rest of this entry »

What do we do about the British constitution?

Gerry Hassan

The Conversation, May 22nd 2015

There can be little doubt that Britain is on the move. This can be seen in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum and forthcoming European Union vote.

This is a time of flux and uncertainty. While for some such as the SNP and critics of the British status quo this is a positive, for many elites and experts this produces anxieties and worries. No more is this is so than with benign liberal opinion – which believes that for every problem there should be a solution, and often an over-arching British constitutional solution at that.

This is the spirit of the just released Lord Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law report ‘A Constitutional Crossroads: Ways Forward for the United Kingdom’ which brings together an impressive array of the great and good from John Kay to Linda Colley, Tony Travers and Adam Tomkins.

Britain is at a ‘crossroads’ if not a crisis and at the outset the report invokes the late Lord Bingham who observed that ‘constitutionally speaking, we now find ourselves in a trackless desert without any map or compass.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Is there a Future for the Scottish Labour Party?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 17th 2015

Should he stay or should he go? That is the question Scottish Labour have been asking themselves since a week past Thursday.

It is, however, the wrong question. Leave aside whether it has come up with the answer for now, with a damaged Jim Murphy staying at the helm for a month, at least.

Murphy isn’t the problem for Scottish Labour. He has only been leader for just five months. Granted, in that time he has done little to make it look like he is the answer.

Post-election, the party has shown little inclination of understanding the predicament it finds itself in. Len McCluskey, head of Unite, didn’t help matters by saying that Murphy made ‘certain’ that Scottish Labour lost and so should resign. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Peaceful Revolution and the End of the Old Britain

Gerry Hassan

The Hindu, May 16th 2015

Britain feels and looks very different now from only a week ago.

The general election threw up many surprises – the re-election of a majority Conservative Government, the scale of the Scottish National Party (SNP) landslide, and Scotland and England pointing in completely opposite political directions.

The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies, reducing the dominant Labour Party north of the border from 41 seats at the previous election to a single seat. A whole host of luminaries lost their seats including Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander and Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two Nations. And Two Leaders

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 10th 2015

We awoke on Friday morning to a very different world. A nearly completely yellow Scotland. A bluer England. And a patchwork Wales.

The first majority Tory Government elected since 1992 whilst Scotland passed in one night from Labour dominance to an even more impressive SNP strength. These and more things weren’t meant to happen.

David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister with a majority has taken many people by surprise. No UK Government sitting for a full term has seen its vote rise since Anthony Eden’s in 1955 – and that was an entirely different kind of world.

Labour is this weekend in a state of bewilderment, despite its decent campaign and the public reception of Ed Miliband. The party’s UK wide vote (30.4%) was its third lowest in post-war times – only exceeded by the 1983 humiliation and 2010 Brown defeat. The party has a fundamental problem across large parts of England, and all of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »