Posts Tagged ‘Bella Caledonia’

The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, May 15th 2013

Two independence campaigns are now running in the UK: one on Scottish independence; the other which has become more public in the last week, on the UK’s possible exit from the European Union. Strangely they operate in near complete isolation of each other, with the Euro referendum being talked about as if we still lived in the high days of untrammelled Westminster parliamentary sovereignty.

In the last week, the front page of the Scottish edition of The Times reported a fall in support for Scottish independence of 3% as, ‘’Yes’ vote hits trouble as support crumbles’ (May 9th 2013). The same week it began its campaign for the UK to embark on EU withdrawal, lining up a chorus line of Tory grandees to declare their support for exit; successive front pages declared, ‘Lawson: It’s time to quit EU’ (May 7th 2013) and ‘Voters tell Cameron to cut Europe down to size’ (May 8th 2013); and were followed by Michael Portillo coming out of support of withdrawal, ‘We don’t share Europe’s vision. So I want out’ (May 9th 2013). The front page of the Scottish edition on the day of the Lawson announcement also included a headline stating, ‘Independent Scotland may struggle to keep lights on’ (May 7th 2013).

One has the language of ‘separatism’, ‘separation’ and is filled with risk and negativity; the other the language of ‘a new relationship’, ‘renegotiation’ and greater choice and flexibility; the first about Scottish independence, the second British withdrawal from the EU. When I asked Angus Macleod, editor of The Times Scottish edition why he used pejorative language on Scotland in one of the pieces cited above he answered, ‘Independence is in in the intro and elsewhere. Separation is used for variety. It’s called journalism’ (twitter, May 9th 2013). Read the rest of this entry »

The Scotland of the Democratic Future: Some Tentative Lessons from Chile

Gerry Hassan

Della Caledonia, February 14th 2013

It has been a telling week for the contours of the future debate on whether Scotland becomes independent. Both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns contain different tones and messages within them, but what has been revealing has been the over-reach and uncompromising character of the UK Government in dealing with its pesky, upstart northern troublemaker.

We shouldn’t expect anything better. The British state has increasingly become the vehicle of a narrow set of economic and political interests, introverted, obsessed with their own worldview, and intent on lecturing the rest of us to pull our socks up, work harder and longer, look after our own pension, and not to worry about such small things as ethical banking and politics, or safe food. For them the challenges of the future are overcoming popular resistance to this, advancing uber-globalisation, and what they see as the most critical referendum, the eventual Euro vote.

In this context, Scotland is met with disdain and dismissal, along with an incremental statecraft which concedes some more powers and autonomy (the disasterous and unloved Scotland Act 2012). The UK Government’s paper launched this Monday described the limbo an independent Scotland would be put into (in a week the resignation of the Pope reminded us of the Catholic Church’s abandonment of the term), and saw the reasonable words of the UK Government’s experts James Crawford of Oxford University and Alan Boyle of Edinburgh University turned into dogmatism and a Scotland facing uncertainty and isolation (1). Read the rest of this entry »

What Do ‘Fred the Shred’ and David Murray Tell Us About Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, February 17th 2012

This is not another article on football. The Rangers crisis has filled the airwaves and media this week. For the second time this year Scotland has gone international and viral, spreading across the globe connecting the diaspora and other interested parties.

Many people ask how this came to pass with Rangers. All kinds of reasons and conspiracies are proposed: pro-Rangers bias, anti-Celtic opinion, Protestantism/anti-Catholicism, and the carve up of ‘the Old Firm’ duopoly.

We need to lift our heads from thinking of football on its own and see this in the context of Scotland. For what the Rangers story tells us is that Scottish society has a problem with power, its relationship to it, and how they hold it to account, scrutinise and inquire into its actions.

This can be seen across Scottish public life from football to business to politics. The Rangers saga has festered for many years. David Murray’s massive overspending and the bludgeoning of the club’s debts were very public and known to be unsustainable. Craig Whyte’s credentials were widely questioned when he took over. Read the rest of this entry »

The ‘Three Scotlands’ and How to Win an Independence Referendum

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, January 4th 2012

Scottish politics post-the election and the return of a majority SNP Government have existed in a seeming state of limbo, a kind of political phoney war.

The SNP have won a landslide victory but have yet to produce a serious strategy for winning independence; the unionist parties in Scotland have all been reduced to an existential crisis about defining their purpose and point; while David Cameron’s government (if it ever thinks about Scotland) is of the view that the break up of the United Kingdom isn’t a serious threat and those pesky Nats will soon be put in their place.

This is a strange display of emotions and assumptions by every party which seems to downplay the historic situation that we are in. This is a combination of immediate short-term politics (SNP victory), with the long-term evolution of Scottish politics and fundamental crisis of the British state to make far-reaching change, and Scottish independence, distinctly possible.

The ‘Three Scotlands’ of Modern Times

There are three distinct Scottish futures on offer. The first is from the SNP Scottish Government which proposes an independent Scotland. The strategy, tactics and detail on this might be surprisingly vague, but the direction and intent is clear. Read the rest of this entry »

How we Democratise Scotland’s Future:

Challenging the Conceit that ‘There is No Other Way’

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, December 8th 2011

The concurrent Scottish, British and European debates go on as mostly separate, but interconnected conversations; political and economic parallel universes often seeming oblivious to the existence of each other.

The British state sovereigntists wax lyrically as if their moment has come, the Tory Party, in David Cameron’s once revealing remarks, returning to its comfort zone of ‘banging on about Europe’, while Labour slowly shift away from two decades of pro-Europeanism, and the Lib Dems and SNP fall nervously silent.

The Scottish political environment finds itself in an uneasy place in all this. There is the aftermath of the SNP landslide victory and its sense of elation, uplift and opening, which has been followed by a strange sensation of uncertainty about what happens next and for some disappointment.

Some see a profound uncertainty in the SNP about what to do next. No one expected this election result, no matter what some SNP advisers say. The all-pervasive strategy of Salmond is steady as she goes, cautious, safety-first, big tentism: the approach which benefited the party so well in minority government. This does not recognise that the political landscape has been fundamentally and possibly irreversibly changed by the election. Read the rest of this entry »