Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
The Named Persons legislation and who stands up for liberty in Scotland?
Sunday Mail, July 31st 2016
The summer of 2016 is proving dramatic and historic. Brexit, David Cameron resignation as PM, Theresa May becoming the new PM, Jeremy Corbyn’s travails.
That’s just Britain. Across the world there is Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, violent and terrorist attacks in Germany and France, Putin flexing his muscles, while a belligerent China shows its power in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has been playing an astute game on Brexit. This week Nicola Sturgeon spoke in a way no pro-European UK politician has yet managed. She was empathic, thoughtful, and forward-looking, while calmly making the case that this mess and crisis is not of Scotland’s making.
It then comes as a bit of a bolt and bringing back down to earth that the UK Supreme Court found against the Scottish Government on the Named Persons Act – which would appoint for every child a named person to look after their wellbeing – finding it not unlawful in principle, but in practice, and in particular, in terms of data sharing between public agencies. Read the rest of this entry »
Gerry Hassan, Independence of the Scottish Mind: Elite Narratives, Public Spaces and the Making of a Modern Nation, Palgrave Macmillan
Reviewed by Scott Hames
Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, Summer 2016
The feverish upheaval of Scottish politics has gradually become its own kind of normal. On 5 May the voters practically yawned as they seized their second chance in twelve months to slaughter the Scottish Labour party. (The body-count is considerable, but it was an apathetic smothering compared to the gore of 2015.) As the SNP’s post-referendum insurgency beds down into cautious hegemony, boredom and campaign-fatigue take hold. With little prospect of a change in Holyrood government, less dynamic patterns of public life return to the fore.
It’s a good moment to reflect on how we got here, and what has and hasn’t changed along the way. Gerry Hassan’s lively and comprehensive study offers ‘a longer-term perspective on the loosening of the inner ties of the UK and weakening of British identity, combined with the rise of a Scottish political dimension and debate’. Independence of the Scottish Mind combines the merits of a richly theorised history of the developments that made devolution inevitable, a shrewd insider’s guide to Scotland’s largely invisible civic-institutional elite, and a sharp critique of the nation’s social-democratic consensus. Read the rest of this entry »
The Labour Party: that pillar of the British constitution doesn’t have a right to exist
Sunday Mail, July 25th 2016
Politics requires a credible opposition that holds government to account. One that offers the prospect of an alternative government – but now, and for the foreseeable future, Scotland and the UK is without one.
This is due to the state of Labour. The last year has been one of the most disastrous in the party’s history. A second election defeat, Scotland lost – and then Brexit. And after last year’s defeat the party curled up even more in its comfort zone and elected Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn now faces a proper leadership contest against Owen Smith. The party has in two days enlisted 183,541 new members, producing 515,000 card-carrying members. But the party has lost control of who it is, or who its members are.
One big difference between Labour and Tories is that Tories love power and know how to use it. Labour don’t love power and don’t know how to use it. This division between the two parties has always been so. Read the rest of this entry »
Remembering childhood holidays in Scotland and my first venture into politics
July 20th 2016
Everybody’s first experiences of summer holidays are always likely to be special – tinged with evocative memories and memorable moments.
My earliest recollection of a summer holiday was the sojourn from Dundee to Girvan in 1969, just before I went to primary school. This trip involved my dad’s light green coloured Volkswagen Beetle; the experience of which left me with a deep-seated affection for such cars.
It was the only family holiday on which my maternal granny, Flo (who my mum never got on with all her adult life) also came along. I was too young to pick up any antagonisms between the two, such were the diversions of the Girvan beach and making sandcastles. But it was also my first ever experience of staying in a hotel, and one which overlooked the sea, and the mightily impressive Ailsa Craig.
I cannot remember anything else about the accommodation bar the view, but I do recall clearly two moments of the break. One was going to Souter Johnnie’s cottage in Kirkoswald, Ayrshire, and being trapped in the garden with the statues when the place closed for the day. My parents, like David Cameron once, took a few minutes to realise they were missing a child, even though they only had one, and in that short time, I was petrified that the statues were going to come alive. Read the rest of this entry »
A Very British Coup: The rise of Theresa May could see the end of the UK
Sunday Mail, July 17th 2006
Theresa May became the UK Prime Minister this week – elected on a mandate of 199 Tory MPs in what amounted to a very British coup.
She is only Britain’s second ever woman Prime Minister, following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher. But in other respects she follows Gordon Brown as the twelfth PM in the last 100 years who has entered Downing Street without a popular mandate.
Jeremy Corbyn is clinging on as Labour leader – aided by his party’s decision to let him on the leadership ballot – irrespective of how few parliamentary colleagues support him. For all the rhetoric of a Blairite coup against him, it is Tories historically who have known how to get rid of failed leaders.
Meanwhile Scotland quietly gets on with a different, more serious politics. It is one nearly entirely bereft of the theatrical politics of Westminster we have seen these last few weeks. Yet, with May coming north to meet Sturgeon, the chasm between the Scottish and UK Governments on EU membership and nationals – as well as Trident – couldn’t be bigger. Read the rest of this entry »