Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

A Cut Out and Keep Guide to Understanding the 2015 General Election in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

May 5th 2015

This has been an election campaign like no other in living memory in Scotland. While Westminster commentators have regularly stated that this is the ‘most boring’ and ‘risk free’ election they can ever remember, north of the border nothing like this has ever been seen before.

Scotland is on the cusp of huge political change which could see Scottish Labour’s Westminster political establishment vanquished, and a new political dispensation and map of the country created, which will not only have ramifications here, but for the whole of the UK.

Scotland normally doesn’t matter in UK general elections. For decades its anointed role has been to provide 40-50 Labour MPs in the hope that the rest of the UK returns a Labour Government. The action and battleground has always been elsewhere, somewhere over the distant horizon.

This election feels and is very different. Scotland is the pulse and the heartbeat of the contest. It is providing much of the story and drama, and may well determine pre and post-election who forms a UK government and under what conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Quiet Revolution: How we changed and what it may mean

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 3rd 2015

What in the future will people say about the state of our nation today? They will say they saw a Scotland on the cusp of historic change, shifting from an older, predictable order to something new and potentially different.

A SNP wave looks certain to wash over Scotland next Thursday, toppling most Labour and Lib Dem strongholds. Cameron has given up on the Scottish Tories – in the pursuit of undermining Scottish Labour and winning back soft English UKIP voters. Ed Miliband in stressing his ‘no deals’ with the SNP seems to have abandoned Scottish Labour to await its fate.

This raises big questions: where are we, how did we get up here, and where are we going? One account stresses that Scotland has been fundamentally changed by the democratic engagement and upsurge of the indyref.

Another even more limited perspective emphasises that Labour’s alliance with the Tories in the referendum has proven toxic for the former, aiding the winning of the vote, but leaving a bitter aftertaste. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Scottish Labour clear up the mess it has got itself into?

Gerry Hassan

Compass, April 30th 2015

Something amazing is happening in the UK general election in Scotland. Its campaign and mood is so different from the rest of the UK. Voters are animated and engaged: one survey predicting 85% certain to vote, 20% more than the highest figures in England.

The old certainties have gone. Whereas once Scotland returned a block of 40-50 MPs to Westminster, and nothing of any real significance happened here, now the entire world has been turned upside down. Instead of a Scottish Labour lead over the SNP of 20% plus, we now have a SNP lead over Labour of a minimum 20%, with the last three polls showing leads of 25%, 32% and 34%, while SNP support has been over 50% in all three. Even if, as many expect, these polls narrow a bit, something major is happening north of the border which could have huge consequences for the future of the Labour Party and UK.

It all used to be so different. Scottish Labour once defined Scotland. It gave birth to British Labour, to many of its early pioneers and campaigners, provided part of the party’s radicalism in the 1920s, and in more modern times, in the 1980s, gave stability and ballast to the party when it was pushed back into its electoral heartlands. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Peak SNP’ and how Scotland and the UK are changing

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, April 28th 2015

Scotland is everywhere in the news only a few months after the indyref. Scotland and its politics are being widely discussed and portrayed not just north of the border, but by UK media and politicians, as well as getting significant international coverage.

Scotland feels different. It is as if something fundamental has shifted in how voters see politics, the consequences of their votes, and themselves.

For years a sizeable segment of voters have thought at Westminster elections that the most important issue was voting Labour and holding the line in Scotland in the hope of keeping the Tories out and electing a Labour Government. This sentiment so prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s seems to have dissipated: the dam which once held so firm, has well and truly burst.

Now an SNP wave looks like it will engulf most Scottish Labour seats and notables in what will amount to a popular tartan tsunami remaking the political map of Scotland – one with profound implications for the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a Family Affair: the Strange Relationship of Labour and SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 26th 2015

The forthcoming general election in Scotland, and to an extent in the UK, is being decided by the battle between Labour and the SNP.

There is history and bad blood here which almost amounts to a bitter family feud. Insults such as ‘tartan Tories’ and ‘red Tories’ are exchanged – both phrases pre-exist their current Labour and SNP use, but are now synonymous with the enmity between the two.

The past is a distant country in this. The SNP electoral breakthrough when Winnie Ewing won Hamilton in 1967 sent a chill up Scottish Labour spines. It was one of the most impregnable Labour seats in the UK, and after it happened, politics were never ever quite the same again.

Labour’s anger against the SNP since then borders on the elemental. This was magnified and given validity by the events of March 28th 1979 when eleven SNP MPs voted with thirteen Liberals to bring down the Callaghan Government. This heralded the 1979 general election and Mrs. Thatcher – which Labour as a result believe the SNP (but never the Liberals) are in some way responsible for. Read the rest of this entry »

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