Scotland embarks on a New Era

Gerry Hassan

Irish Times, May 9th 2015

Scotland has had landmark Westminster elections before.

There was 1997 when Scotland voted out every Tory MP. Then in October 1974 there was the first ever Scottish-wide Nationalist surge; in 1955 there was the high tide of Tory Unionism when they won over half the votes and seats; and in 1922 Labour broke through for the first time and ‘Red Clydeside’ went to Westminster.

This is one of those moments – and more. History has been made by the collective expression of the Scottish people. Records have been broken north and south of the border. Scotland has turned its face in one political direction. And England and the rest of the UK firmly in another.

The SNP surge has carried nearly all before it. Labour bastion after bastion has fallen. All of Glasgow has gone from red to yellow. The Liberal Democrats have been wiped off the mainland and left with the solitary outpost of Orkney and Shetland. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Football Revolution of Recent Years

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 6th 2015

The last few years have seen the natural order of things disrupted in Scotland.

The once dominant force in the land has been humbled, its traditional place and authority usurped by others, and a series of ineffective and incompetent leaders have promised salvation and then not delivered.

This is the story of Glasgow Rangers, although there are similarities with the recent experience of Scottish Labour. And yet until the last six months or so of the indyref, the big news story of our country was not political, but about Rangers.

To some people this was a period of joy: celebrating the toppling of the famous and once powerful Rangers. This was particularly true of Rangers haters, some of who were Celtic fans and some of who were fans of Scotland’s other forty senior clubs fed up at the predictability of the Old Firm’s historic stranglehold. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cut Out and Keep Guide to Understanding the 2015 General Election in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

May 5th 2015

This has been an election campaign like no other in living memory in Scotland. While Westminster commentators have regularly stated that this is the ‘most boring’ and ‘risk free’ election they can ever remember, north of the border nothing like this has ever been seen before.

Scotland is on the cusp of huge political change which could see Scottish Labour’s Westminster political establishment vanquished, and a new political dispensation and map of the country created, which will not only have ramifications here, but for the whole of the UK.

Scotland normally doesn’t matter in UK general elections. For decades its anointed role has been to provide 40-50 Labour MPs in the hope that the rest of the UK returns a Labour Government. The action and battleground has always been elsewhere, somewhere over the distant horizon.

This election feels and is very different. Scotland is the pulse and the heartbeat of the contest. It is providing much of the story and drama, and may well determine pre and post-election who forms a UK government and under what conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Quiet Revolution: How we changed and what it may mean

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 3rd 2015

What in the future will people say about the state of our nation today? They will say they saw a Scotland on the cusp of historic change, shifting from an older, predictable order to something new and potentially different.

A SNP wave looks certain to wash over Scotland next Thursday, toppling most Labour and Lib Dem strongholds. Cameron has given up on the Scottish Tories – in the pursuit of undermining Scottish Labour and winning back soft English UKIP voters. Ed Miliband in stressing his ‘no deals’ with the SNP seems to have abandoned Scottish Labour to await its fate.

This raises big questions: where are we, how did we get up here, and where are we going? One account stresses that Scotland has been fundamentally changed by the democratic engagement and upsurge of the indyref.

Another even more limited perspective emphasises that Labour’s alliance with the Tories in the referendum has proven toxic for the former, aiding the winning of the vote, but leaving a bitter aftertaste. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Scottish Labour clear up the mess it has got itself into?

Gerry Hassan

Compass, April 30th 2015

Something amazing is happening in the UK general election in Scotland. Its campaign and mood is so different from the rest of the UK. Voters are animated and engaged: one survey predicting 85% certain to vote, 20% more than the highest figures in England.

The old certainties have gone. Whereas once Scotland returned a block of 40-50 MPs to Westminster, and nothing of any real significance happened here, now the entire world has been turned upside down. Instead of a Scottish Labour lead over the SNP of 20% plus, we now have a SNP lead over Labour of a minimum 20%, with the last three polls showing leads of 25%, 32% and 34%, while SNP support has been over 50% in all three. Even if, as many expect, these polls narrow a bit, something major is happening north of the border which could have huge consequences for the future of the Labour Party and UK.

It all used to be so different. Scottish Labour once defined Scotland. It gave birth to British Labour, to many of its early pioneers and campaigners, provided part of the party’s radicalism in the 1920s, and in more modern times, in the 1980s, gave stability and ballast to the party when it was pushed back into its electoral heartlands. Read the rest of this entry »

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