Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Time for a Future Scotland of Head and Heart: A Challenge to Independence and the Union

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 22nd 2015

Scotland for many at the moment feels an exciting place. But for others there is a sense of dismay and confusion.

The latter is particularly evident in pro-union opinion. This week, ‘The Times’ commentator Magnus Linklater agreed with William McIlvanney’s recent revision of L.P. Hartley’s ‘the past is a foreign country’, referencing Scotland – ‘when you get to my age the present is a foreign country’.

Linklater agreed. He noted falling oil prices, the economic balance sheet between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and pressures on public services. These should have led to a situation where Scotland ‘turned its back even more resolutely on the issue of independence’ and left the SNP ‘licking its wounds’. Yet the opposite was the case he conceded and he was baffled why. Read the rest of this entry »

The tartan tsunami and how It will change Scotland and the UK for good

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, March 20th 2015

The UK general election campaign is upon us – struggling to make sense of the state of the country and how its institutions and politics are seen.

Underneath all the political rhetoric and exchange we are about to witness is tangible anxiety and unsureness about who ‘we’ are and the very existence, or not, of a ‘we’ in terms of connection, culture and collective memories – which can be found equally on both left and right.

Scotland has become one of the key reference points of this election: continually cited by the Westminster class and media, but seldom if ever understood. It wasn’t meant to be like this. The indyref was won 55:45 for the union. The issue was supposedly in David Cameron’s words ‘settled’, Alex Salmond seen off the political stage and the SNP juggernaut checked, if not stopped.

Scotland is at a seismic moment with huge implications and long-term repercussions not just for Scotland but the UK – as what increasingly looks like a tartan tsunami could sweep away scores of Labour once impregnable bastions north of the border. Read the rest of this entry »

Is David Cameron the Biggest Threat to the Union?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 15th 2015

Scotland has become one of the main issues in the forthcoming UK election.

It is not only that Jim Murphy and Ed Miliband feel anxious about the number of Labour seats they will hold in Scotland and the extent of the SNP juggernaut.

What is also true is how Scotland is playing out in Conservative strategy and how David Cameron is using it to hurt Labour in two ways. First, he is aiming to hurt them in England and take votes from them with the threat of the Nationalists, and second, he plans to hurt them north of the border by pushing votes into the arms of the SNP to harm Labour’s chances of forming a government.

This has become one of the most prominent Tory election themes – along with ‘A Recovering Economy: Don’t Let Labour Wreck It’. This can be seen by Cameron’s approach this week in Prime Minister’s Questions, and in a number of Tory election posters, the latest of which had a huge Alex Salmond looking down on a tiny Ed Miliband tucked into Salmond’s top pocket. Read the rest of this entry »

A Watershed Moment for Scottish Labour, Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 8th 2015

Scottish Labour’s predicament and condition is centre stage in British politics. It has become one of the major factors which will determine the fate of the next UK election and government.

Jim Murphy’s leadership, with its constant announcements and hyper-activity,  whilst not having created the fundamental problems the party faces, seems to offer no real solution so far.

Underneath all this Scottish Labour does not understand the position it finds itself in and how to get out of it. Fundamentally the party does not comprehend the state of post-referendum Scotland it faces.

Its problems have been a long time coming: the morphing of the party into the political establishment, its lack of imagination and purpose about what devolution was for, and finally, its lack of a progressive case for the union in the referendum, combined with their alliance with the Tories in ‘Better Together’. Read the rest of this entry »

Power to the People not the Political Class

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 1st 2015

The airwaves this week have been filled with the sound of politicians crashing and burning.

Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were caught in yet another ‘cash for access’ scandal, while on the next day, English Green leader Natalie Bennett found it impossible to offer the most basic costings of her party’s housing policies.

These instances – and the reactions of politicians and public to them – raise questions about what kind of politicians voters want to represent them. And what kind of politics. Once upon a time both parliamentarians and public felt they knew the answer to this. No longer.

People can talk about the sad state of the Westminster Parliament and the quality of debates and representatives. But there is a much deeper set of issues. If we look closer to home to the Scottish Parliament or across local government, who beyond a couple of the prominent figures in the main parties shine and connects to people? Read the rest of this entry »

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