Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Time for Boldness and Honesty: 21st Century Scottish Radicalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 23rd 2014

The independence referendum has seen an explosion of radical and progressive thinking and activism. Where there was once silence and disillusion, now there is hope, excitement and imagination.

There is the generosity and pluralism of National Collective, the breadth and reach of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), and the energy and dynamism of the Jimmy Reid Foundation. Then there is a wider set of trends looking at how to develop a deeper democracy from the work of So Say Scotland and its Citizen’s Assembly, ‘the art of hosting’ processes, and the Electoral Reform Society’s work on deliberative democracy.

The above – with all its undoubted positives – has to be put in historical and political context, understanding the shortcomings and failures of the left generally, and the Scottish left in particular. This is an essential prerequisite if this outburst of energy and radicalism is to have a lasting effect on the Scottish body politic. Read the rest of this entry »

The UK has failed but we have to address Scottish shortcomings

Gerry Hassan

Newsnet Scotland, April 26th 2014

The Scottish independence debate is about many things. It is about the state of modern Scotland and its different possible futures. But it is also about the condition of the UK, its multiple crises and how these impact north of the border.

The state of the United Kingdom is one of the main drivers of the Scottish debate. It has become an accepted fact that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, ranked fourth in a study by Prof. Danny Dorling of Oxford University. London is, on some indicators, the most unequal city in the entire developed world.

The City of London and London as a world city ‘crowd out’ the rest of the UK: the latter accounting for 12% of UK population and 22% of GDP. The UK has become disfigured by uneven economic development on a scale unseen in the rest of Western Europe. Then there is the level of debt which the UK has counting personal, corporate and state debts which has fallen from 502% in September 2012 to 471% at the end of 2013 according to McKinsey: the second highest of any major economy apart from Japan. Government debt, the part that obsesses Cameron and Osborne, represents just over one-sixth of all UK debt. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise of a Very Different Nation: The Emergence of ‘the Third Scotland’

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, April 23rd 2014

The Scottish independence referendum has in the past few months become more alive and interesting. The polls have narrowed markedly and what was previously seen by many on the pro-union side as a mere formality has become a real competitive contest.

Such a swift transformation has left most of the British political classes and media struggling to catch up with events. But it has also left large parts of pro-union Scotland feeling bewildered and disorientated at the pace of change.

Scotland has slowly and unambiguously become another country. This has been a very gradual, quiet revolution, one without obvious leaders, champions or simple causes, which has happened over decades and the past century. It has been one in which the key transition points have not been simple, sudden or clear. Read the rest of this entry »

George Robertson and the Scots’ Crisis of Unionism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 16th 2014

Something seems to be seriously wrong in the pro-union campaign, ‘Better Together’.

They may still be ahead in the polls, but the gap has narrowed significantly. Two years of dire warnings about the perils of ‘separatism’ and ‘tearing Scotland out the United Kingdom’ have only exposed the threadbare, tetchy character of the pro-union argument so far.

In November last year ‘The Economist’ declared the referendum won for the union; now it reflects on the ‘teflon’ qualities of Scottish nationalism, and the incessant ‘pessimism’ of the pro-union side. Beyond George Robertson’s dire warnings of ‘cataclysmic’ geo-political consequences and ‘the forces of darkness’ a sea change is happening in Scotland which will have an impact long after the referendum. Read the rest of this entry »

Sceptical Scotland needs to be listened to and respected

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 9th 2014

There are many Scotlands – generational, by social background, interests, opinions and beliefs.

One Scotland that tends to get overlooked is the thoughtful, but sceptical part of our nation – not Yes but not completely No – who look on with bewilderment and an element of confusion at much of what passes for public debate. We owe it to ourselves to reach out and to understand this Scotland.

Refrains heard recently from this group include, ‘When will this be over’ and ‘When will it ever end’. What does this sense of wariness and resignation signify? Part of it must be an understandable revulsion from the official politics/media ‘civil war without the guns’. But something else is at work which can be summarised as a contest between the Scotland of myth – of our society as a comfortable, centre-left place versus the potential of this debate to demythologise and challenge these myths. That is uncomfortable for some.

Second, there is for some doubt about the Scottish Government prospectus on independence, summarised in the view, ‘I distrust the bright, shiny, optimistic take on independence being put forward’. Read the rest of this entry »