Armageddon Days are Here Again: Ulsterification and the Potential of DIY Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 11th 2016

Language, words and how people communicate matter. Yet, many would agree that much of the conduct of politics and politicians – and even public life in Scotland and the UK – falls short and leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lack of straight-talking and honesty, and over-use of worn out phrases and expressions, along with attempts to close off debates by caricaturing and stereotyping opponents and their arguments.

This week David Cameron decided to invoke, in relation to Brexit, not just security, defence and conflict concerns, but the prospect that World War Three would be more likely. This is an arms race of scare stories which starts with living standards being threatened by political upheaval, and ends in the spectre of Armageddon and potentially the end of humanity as we know it.

Scotland has been developing its own march towards hysteria beyond the manufactured threats of Project Fear. In the most uncompromising nationalist accounts of Scotland there is much accusation and concern about betrayal, perfidy, treachery, the odd quisling, and what seems akin to an occupation of the mind.

This perspective perceives organised conspiracy everywhere in our history and today. There was the historic wrong of the union with England, bought by a ‘parcel o’ rogues’ which no one in the population voted for (ignoring that these were pre-democratic times, and the same was true of England), to what the union supposedly did to Scotland – imposing injustice after injustice upon us, either against our collective will, or without asking. Read the rest of this entry »

The End of An Era: Goodbye to the 1980s and the Age of the Imperial SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 8th 2016

Last week’s election marked the end of a historic era –  a Scotland defined by the explosion and aftermath of the independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have been given a mandate of sorts – not the kind they were looking for or expecting. It is much more conditional, while still tinged with respect.

The SNP won but their expectations about a landslide got the better of them. Sturgeon tried to play it both ways on the indyref (not as chaotically as Labour’s Kezia Dugdale) but given her position as First Minister did so in a way that caused some doubt and even confusion.

There were several winners. The Tories and Greens are on the up, and outflanking the SNP on the right and left. Both were ‘winners’ in the indyref, but have managed to move on to new terrain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Scottish Revolution that isn’t quite what people expected

Gerry Hassan

May 6th 2016

The Scottish election was a foregone conclusion. Everything was settled we were told. But it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

A third SNP term, but without the expected overall majority that the Nationalists and polls expected. A Tory revival beyond expectations. And a Labour nightmare implosion which makes it difficult to see a way back. Decent results for the Greens and Lib Dems.

All of this will throw up big questions about politics, power and legitimacy. Nicola Sturgeon has talked about ‘a clear and unequivocal mandate’, but is it really – when the Nats campaigned with the expectation of a majority? Part of this is failed expectation management, but it raises questions about whether Sturgeon and the Nats can adapt to a different language and politics in more difficult times, and a more contested politics? This is without getting into what this means for the longer term prospects of independence – which cannot now be seen as synonymous with the SNP.

Here are some of the bigger changes:

1. TURNOUT

The second highest Scottish Parliament election turnout since 1999. 55.6% is up 5.2% on 2011 – but way down on the indyref 84.6% and last year’s 71.1%. Some of ‘the missing Scotland’ which turned out in the indyref – has clearly become disenfranchised again – look at the Dundee and Glasgow turnouts for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Govanhill: A Response from Glasgow City Council

May 5th 2016

Dear Mr Hassan,

I saw your article on ‘Scottish Review’ about Govanhill and, as a press officer for Glasgow City Council, was particularly taken the paragraph, which said:

For years Govanhill has had a palpable feeling of falling between the cracks and has not received council and government regeneration policy and funding. It isn’t by any stretch one of the poorest parts of Glasgow or Scotland, but this has meant that it has consistently missed out on funds, priorities and influence.

Below is a fact sheet, which was produced by the council for a public meeting held in Govanhill in September last year. This can be fully updated if required, but it should be noted that the CCTV system referred to is now fully operational and the Scottish Government has approved the council’s proposal for an Enhanced Enforcement Area for Govanhill.

People can always argue that more should be done – such is life in local government – but, given what’s written below, it’s not accurate to say that Govanhill has not been the focus of resources or policy input. Read the rest of this entry »

Govanhill: Glasgow’s Ellis Island and the Battle for the Heart of Nicola Sturgeon’s Constituency

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 4th 2016

A couple of years ago a community arts project in Glasgow designated Albert Drive on the city’s Southside as ‘Scotland’s most ethnically diverse street’. It was a good strapline – filled with positivity and pride, but inaccurate. Instead, that byline should be held by the nearby community of Govanhill, with 53 different languages recorded in its small area.

Govanhill has always been in transition and a place for immigrants: known for a long while as Glasgow’s Ellis Island. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it saw Irish immigration; after the Second World War, Italian, Polish and Jewish incomers and then from the seventies, Asian immigration, mostly from Pakistan, and in the last decade, Roma newcomers. Each, including the most recent, has been met with a degree of welcome, besides some unease and local tensions.

Govanhill is an area of great change, energy and enterprise that buzzes with activities and potential, but does have problems. It has some awful, slum housing with terrible living conditions, dampness and over-crowding. There are concerns about crime and policing and parts of the neighbourhood have a sense of decay and neglect, with overgrown backcourts and uncollected piles of rubbish.

For years Govanhill has had a palpable feeling of falling between the cracks and not receiving council and government regeneration policy and funding. It isn’t by any stretch one of the most poor parts of Glasgow or Scotland, but this has meant it has consistently missed out of funds, priorities and influence. Read the rest of this entry »

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