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The Continuing Battle for Scotland: Goodbye to British politics and Goodbye to Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, April 19th 2017

The age of perma-campaigning and elections continues in Scotland. Theresa May’s snap election, supposedly to give her a mandate for Brexit which she already had, will be Scotland’s seventh visit to the polls in the last three years.

For some of us, a select few, this is nirvana. For many more it is an unwanted intrusion. But while mainstream media vox pops show us the now legendary Brenda from Bristol say how disgusted she is at having to vote again, a YouGov poll showed that 49% thought May was right to go the country and only 17% disagreed.

The battlelines of the contest, both clear and unclear, are being drawn. This is an election which will be about more than Brexit and independence, but the multiple crises and uncertainties of the UK. It isn’t an accident that there have been a pile up of elections and referendums in the UK recently, because this is one indication of the fading power and legitimacy of the political classes. Read the rest of this entry »

A Scotland without Nationalism

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 19th 2017

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a Scotland without nationalism? That is the clarion call put forward regularly by opponents of the SNP and independence.

Nationalism is a worldwide phenomenon – although many popular discussions, including those in Scotland, take place without offering any definition. Yet, the late James Kellas spent his academic life studying nationalism, described it as:

Nationalism is both an ideology and a form of behaviour … In all cases, nationalism seeks to defend and promote the interests of the nation … Nationalist behaviour is based on the feeling of belonging to a community which is the nation. Those who do not belong to the nation are seen as different, foreigners or aliens, with loyalties to their own nations. Read the rest of this entry »

The Left’s Big Problem: Ken Livingstone and talking about Hitler and the Jews

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 12th 2017

These are dark days for British Labour. Much worse than 1983 – or the 1950s. Only the shock of 1931 comes anywhere near to the present malaise when the party was betrayed by former Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald going off with the Tories.

Labour is heading for the rocks, irrelevance and ridicule. The only things holding it up are the even more self-destructive behaviour of UKIP, and the workings of the First Past the Post electoral system which gives the party ballast against a complete meltdown by providing it with 150 or so banker seats.

Corbyn has terrible ratings, the party has no coherent economic or any other kind of positive message, is at an all-time low for an opposition in the polls, and is facing terrible local elections across the country, with the prospect of a rout in Scotland. If that weren’t enough 34% of voters say they are less likely to vote Labour because of concerns over anti-semitism. Read the rest of this entry »

Stay Calm: The Country formerly known as the UK is Breaking Up

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 5th 2017

Sometimes years go by without domestic and international crises. Then like buses, a whole series of them come along at the same time to the extent that hardly anyone can keep up.

It is exhausting to keep up for citizens, the media and the participants directly involved. In the last week, the Scottish Parliament voted 69-59 to hold a second independence referendum, Theresa May finally triggered Article 50 for the UK to leave the EU, and the UK got involved in a bizarre spat with the Spanish Government over Gibraltar which showed that the UK authorities and Brexiteers have hardly been doing advance planning. Former Tory leader Michael Howard upped the ante invoking the Falklands war and making bellicose noises threatening the use of military force: remarks which met with the approval of Downing Street with no slap down, public or private, coming forth.

Scotland nearly feels serene compared to such hyperbole. There is the usual stand-off and attitude between the SNP and Scottish Greens and the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems. Some of this is now so familiar it has the feel of a set piece dance arrangement from a West End musical. Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine a Parallel Universe Scotland without the SNP

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, March 29th 2017

Nearly every adult in Scotland has an opinion and view on the SNP: the good, the bad, the positive, the negative and the indifferent.

The SNP have been a constant presence in public life at least since Winnie Ewing’s famous and oft-cited Hamilton by-election victory: a result which did much to bring into being the modern SNP and the contemporary Scotland we live in.

Yet, the SNP are now such a powerful force that it is hard to imagine that only two generations ago it wasn’t always so. In the 1955 general election, the Nationalists only stood two candidates, winning a total of 12,112 votes (0.5%) and there were discussions about winding up as a separate force. Nearly a decade later – in 1964, the party won only 64,044 votes (2.4%) and was still largely irrelevant in Scottish life.

What if the SNP springboard that really took effect in 1966-67 and culminating in Hamilton had never happened? Imagine a politics where the contemporary SNP never emerged as an electoral force, but remained forever at the margins. Exploring such a parallel universe Scotland gives a sense of what could have been, and an idea of what the SNP have contributed to in public life. Read the rest of this entry »

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