Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The anger about the Iraq Disaster isn’t just about Iraq and Blair

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 7th 2016

It is hard to envisage now but once upon a time Tony Blair was an eager to please, likeable, pragmatic politician.

In 1997 he caught the mood of the times and led Labour to an election victory of historic proportions, and inflicted the worst ever defeat on the Conservatives, which they took more than a decade to recover from. At that year’s Labour conference Alastair Campbell, Blair’s Head of Communications, leaked a private poll which revealed that Blair had a 93% public satisfaction rating.

Whatever happened? Power, the allure of others with global authority and influence, being impressed by and wanting to keep in with elites and the super-rich from Murdoch to the City, and the limits of charismatic leadership, are part of the explanation. But even then this doesn’t account for the descent of the reputation of Tony Blair to its current nadir.

Iraq played a huge part in the political decline of Tony Blair, and has created an open wound in British public life about politicians and trust which has been bitterly damaging and corrosive. Read the rest of this entry »

After Britain: Is Scottish Independence the New Normal?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 6th 2016

These are unprecedented times. The Tories, UKIP and English and Welsh Greens are all in the middle of leadership elections, while Jeremy Corbyn is holding on by his fingertips in a stand-off with his own parliamentary party

There is a lot of bewilderment, frustration and resentment – not just amongst Remain voters in the EU referendum, but also in the bitterly divided Leave camp.

In the midst of this maelstrom Scottish independence looks like the new normal: less risky and the safer option than the Brexiteer fantasy of Britain. Whereas before the vote Leave was left as an open offer, now the uber right-wing plans are being dusted down with the aim of ripping up every economic and social regulation possible.

Some are portraying independence as a potential new ‘Scottish Renaissance’, but for what version of Scotland? In many respects, one suspects this is a Scotland which is a mini-me version of ‘the great British economic miracle’ – our very own ‘Celtic Tiger’ reflated post-crash with little learnt from that implosion. Read the rest of this entry »

Is this the beginning of the end of Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 3rd 2016

It may not be the beginning of the end of the UK quite yet. But it is the end of British politics – and Britain, as we know it.

The British state faces its biggest geo-political set of challenges in generations. Blair and Iraq, Anthony Eden and Suez pale compared to this in terms of damage to the UK’s reputation, and only Neville Chamberlain and Munich, and Lord North’s loss of the American colonies, are in any way in the same league.

Fifty years of British statecraft towards the EU have been completely blown up, itself part of over two hundred years of how the UK has seen itself in relation to Europe – in attempting to keep the balance and prevent one country from controlling the continent. Now the EU will be left even more to German dominance.

A sizeable minority of Europe led by France want to punish the UK; the majority led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel still hope to do the best deal possible with the British. But there is widespread anger with the usually calm Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruffe commenting, ‘England has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.’ And that’s from a friend. Read the rest of this entry »

Nine Months in the Death of Labour: A Response to the Corbynistas

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 28th 2016

These are surprising times in Britain and its politics. Cameron gone. England and Wales dragging the UK out of the EU. The England football team defeated by Iceland. And somehow Jeremy Corbyn was meant to be the antidote to these political times.

He was different from the typical 21st century politician, a throwback to the days when all male left-wingers were like underpaid sociology lecturers – badly dressed and presented, rambling but affectionate and with their heart in the right place. Corbyn was never the answer, but he has quickly become the problem, and part of a much bigger set of problems that can’t be ignored – namely, will Labour survive?

It is understandable that some want to stand by their man against right-wing plotters, the media and enemies everywhere, but it is time for Corbynistas to think of more important things. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the world of little Britain and Scotland wants no part

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 26th 2016

This is what the death of a nation looks like – petty nationalism, populism, fact-free politics, and surprises everywhere. This is the world of ‘little Britain’ – and it isn’t pretty.

These are unpredictable times. There is anger and frustration. Whole sections of British society feel that politicians, elites and experts don’t understand them. Such is their desperation and feeling of powerlessness that many felt that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are the answer.

This referendum is about Europe, and has been a long time coming, but is also a proxy about so much more. It’s about the right-wing English press, the media and public obsession with personalities (even in politics), immigration, austerity and the ‘left behind’ working class.

Cameron gambled a second time for high stakes in a referendum and lost. That is bad enough, but he has lost the main strategic union for the UK internationally, and may have brought the union between Scotland and England to a bitter end. Read the rest of this entry »

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