Posts Tagged ‘Alex Salmond’

The Battle for Britain and Why Alex Salmond and Independence Has Already Won

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, February 7th 2014

This year is witnessing several battles for Britain – of numerous anniversaries of past military triumphs, of the Scottish independence referendum, and the rising tide of the Tory Party’s continued obsession with Europe.

All of these are inter-related in the long-term, almost existential, crisis of what Britain is, what is it for, what kind of society and values it represents, and what kind of future it offers its people. This tumultuous moment we now find ourselves in is one with many layers: economic, social, democratic, and even geo-political (in where Britain aspires to ally itself internationally).

The Scottish independence referendum is fascinating and not a narrow or arid constitutional debate, but influenced by these wider concerns. Revealingly, to most of the London political classes it is seen as marginal, disconnected from their concerns, of episodic interest, and discounted (as they already assess they have won), as noted by Alex Massie in his front cover piece in this week’s ‘Spectator’ (1). Read the rest of this entry »

The Limits of Labour and Nationalist Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, July 20th 2013

The Scotland of the present is a product of how we understand our past; and the past is always been made, remade and contested.

It is not then too surprising that in recent weeks Labour figures such as Brian Wilson and Maria Fyfe in this paper have laid into what they have seen as the over-promotion of the Nationalist tradition – with both criticising visitScotland for profiling Robert McIntyre’s election as SNP MP for Motherwell in 1945.

What people like Wilson and others are asserting is that the Nationalist history and folklore of Scotland is somehow illegitimate. That it is partisan, not mainstream and unworthy of becoming part of the official canvas of modern Scotland. It is a deeply flawed, problematic and pernicious view of Scotland.

Let’s take a very different view of Scotland – one of many of us have grown up and are familiar with – the Labour story of Scotland. This has celebrated the life and ideas of Keir Hardie, James Maxton and John Wheatley, the formation of the Independent Labour Party, ‘Red Clydeside’ and Tom Johnston. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Alex Salmond

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, October 13th 2012

Dear Alex,

Next week you will address the SNP Annual Conference, closer than ever to what you have strived all your political life for: Scottish independence.

You need to give a speech like you have never done before. Here are some suggestions.

1. Stop using the same template to shape your speech. Some of us have noticed that you have a habit of giving a rather similar speech year-in, year-out.

There is a reference to a cultural figure, usually the Makar, Edwin Morgan. Then there is always tribute paid to a prominent left-winger who passed away in the previous year. A year or two ago it was Jimmy Reid, this year it will be Campbell Christie.

Then there is the evoking of ‘the community of the realm’ to showcase our different values and traditions. And finally, just to show you mean business and are radical not conservative, you mention that moral blot on our landscape, Trident. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Scotland Really the Social Democratic Country It Proclaims?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 18th 2012

There is a widespread assumption across most if not all of Scotland that this is a land of the centre-left; that we don’t vote Tory, didn’t buy into Thatcherism, and that we are all the children of social democracy.

Leaving aside the Scottish Social Attitudes Surveys on Scots/English differences (which show there aren’t that big differences), there is a prevalent belief that centre-left, left and collectivist values percolate through and define our society.

Some voices on the left believe that they speak for what they see as a wide and potentially powerful constituency. However, if this was the case would not our politics and society look very different and be shaped and influenced by these currents?

This week Henry McLeish, former Scottish First Minister, and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, have made significant interventions. McLeish talked of the possibilities of independence leading to the ‘cultural transformation’ which he believes Scottish society desperately needs, while holding back from embracing it yet. Read the rest of this entry »

State of InterIndependence: A Vision for Scottish Self-Determination

Gerry Hassan

May 24th 2012

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in the future

And time future contained in the past.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (1936)

This week the Scottish independence debate reaches new levels with the launch of the ‘Yes Scotland’ pro-independence campaign, the emergence of the shape of the pro-union campaign, and the spectre of Tony Blair hovering threateningly over Scottish politics.

Scottish independence has long been viewed by the British political classes as eccentric and unworldly. The Economist’s ‘Bagehot’ column made a revealing comment this week when it stated that ‘the SNP took control of the Scottish Government in 2011’ (1), showing that for many in London this debate (and the threat of Scottish self-government) only really began with the election of a majority SNP Government in May last year.

The week of the launch of the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign has confirmed the problematic right-wing trajectory of British politics, the Conservative Party and the Westminster village. First, there has been the leaking of the Beecroft deregulation report (2), which proposed that small employers should be able to ‘hire and fire’ at will, and which has been met with derision from Lib Dems. Second, more impressively and worryingly, was the huge report from the Taxpayers Alliance and Institute of Directors, the 2020 Tax Commission (3) which brought together 19 ‘experts’ (18 men and a solitary woman) to propose the toxic mix of a 30% single income tax, abolition of corporation tax and inheritance tax, and the shrinking of the state as a percentage from half to one-third of GDP.

This backdrop has a massive impact on Scotland, as UK politics heads inexorably towards a deregulated, marketised, individualised fantasy world which aspires to be some kind of Singapore or Hong Kong sitting off the European continent. And of course, there is the now nearly inevitable in/out European referendum, posing the question: what kind of union is it that the pro-union forces want to defend? Read the rest of this entry »