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Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

A Summer of Discontent in Scotland’s Independence Movement

Gerry Hassan

Sceptical Scot, August 9th 2017

It isn’t a happy time for the Scottish independence movement. To some it seems like the silly season; to others a summer of discontent. But clearly something is going on which matters for the state of Scottish politics and the cause of independence.

The context is important. The SNP reverse in the 2017 election came as an unwelcome shock to many independence supporters. It has thrown many post-2014 assumptions into the air concerning the inevitability of another independence referendum, its timing and result.

The differences have been telling. Pro-independence blogger Wings over Scotland – aka Stuart Campbell – has said he will take Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to court for defamation after she said remarks of his were homophobic. Green MSP Ross Greer said ‘The National’s’ front covers were ‘cringe-inducing’, and criticised the ‘bile’ of part of the independence movement. One example he cited was the personal abuse Cat Boyd faced following the revelation she voted Labour in the June election. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two City Centres: Edinburgh and Glasgow

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 9th 2017

Summer, Scotland 2017. Edinburgh comes alive and Glasgow has the start of the football season to look forward too. A tale of two cities and two very different experiences.

Edinburgh Festival Time. In the immediate weeks before hundreds of thousands of self-confessed culture vultures descend on the city it was announced that security barriers would go up in the city centre around the Royal Mile.

There was little warning, debate or ensuing controversy. A declaration was made and within days the barriers – which include high security gates, metal portals and concrete blocks – were erected to prevent vehicles hitting pedestrians. They even have a fancy sounding name – the National Barrier Asset (NBA) – and are deployed on request from, and paid for by, the UK Government. There was next to no comment let alone any queries or opposition. That seems somewhat noteworthy. Read the rest of this entry »

The High Road and the Low Road of Scottish debate and politics

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, August 2nd 2017

These are serious and dangerous times across the globe. There is the instability and gangland nature of the Trump administration, its ‘America First’ isolationism, disparaging of traditional allies, and open admiration for autocrats such as Putin and Erdoğan.

Then there is the threat of North Korea and its kleptocratic notionally Communist regime and its nuclear and aggressive ambitions which have so far found the international community wanting. And on a less dramatic scale, but no less important for the UK and Europe, there are the perils of Brexit, as Britain sleepwalks its way out of the EU without an agreed plan or national consensus.

Despite the above the Scottish debate seems, for many, to swing along in isolation and even in places in blithe ignorance of bigger issues at play across the planet. All that matters for some is winning the Scottish debate and defeating and even diminishing their opponents on the constitutional question. This is an unhealthy state of affairs for Scotland, and one made more sad and misguided by the scale of challenges facing us internationally. Read the rest of this entry »

Brexit, Dunkirk and a Britain Where the Past Shapes the Future

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 26th 2017

The past is always around us in what passes for modern Britain.

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it seems more omnipotent and increasingly problematic. From politics to culture and most aspects of public life we are confronted with a fantasyland version of the collective past which is selective and sepia-tinged. This matters because it reduces the prospect of us believing that we can make a better collective future than the nasty, mean-spirited reality which is for too many contemporary Britain.

This predicament comes into full view in the summer of 2017 and in Christopher Nolan’s just released film ‘Dunkirk’. This has attracted many plaudits for its grand scale, alongside its depiction of chaos and confusion. But it has also attracted comment (including critical ones) for its lack of characters, central story, and context (one of which is the absence of any Germans or overall strategy from either side).

However it did portray powerfully the gathering foreboding and claustrophobia on the Dunkirk beachhead as the Germans closed in on the trapped British and French forces. This was after all the greatest British military disaster and reverse ever in the country’s history. In military terms it rates much higher than the American Wars of Independence and Irish independence – which were geo-political defeats – or the much cited humiliations of the loses of Tobruk, Singapore and Hong Kong in 1942. This is epic history on every level: a bigger encirclement of men than even at Stalingrad, and the biggest amphibious military rescue ever undertaken by anyone. Read the rest of this entry »

The Limits of the Ruth Davidson Show

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 21st 2017

These are times of change. An election that shocked. Parties in crisis. And a world which never seems to stop in terms of news, surprises and tragedy.

Scotland isn’t immune to this. But one take as we come up for two weeks after the election has been that the Tories are back and that this is all due to the appeal of Ruth Davidson. And then there is the secondary story of Scottish Labour showing that it isn’t dead, and has possibly even come off the ropes, prepared to fight and hope again.

The Scottish Tories are seen as on the way up and even having UK impact and influence. Scottish Labour are now talked about as possibly having a future and not written off as a complete basket case. Read the rest of this entry »

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