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Posts Tagged ‘Bella Caledonia’

Could Scotland really be reduced to the status of a region?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 18th 2017

When did present day Scotland begin? Not the ‘modern’ Scotland of post-war times, or the upside and then downside of Labour Scotland. But the land that we visibly live in today – shaped by the ghosts of industries long gone and the sins and excesses of Thatcher and Blair.

The conventional answer is 1979: the ‘Year Zero’ of Scottish sensibilities when, for many, the world was turned upside down with election of the Thatcher Government and the stalled first devolution referendum.

However, that is the view in retrospect. Thatcher didn’t unambiguously represent Thatcherism in 1979. Interestingly, most of Scotland’s non-Tory politicians and mainstream media didn’t represent it then the way we do now. For example ‘The Herald’ and ‘The Scotsman’ choose to interpret Thatcher’s first UK victory not in terms of the Scottish national dimension, but in British conventional left and right terms (neither of which were then as wedded to the constitutional debate as now).

In reality present day Scotland started somewhere between 1983 and 1987 – between the second Thatcher victory, the invention of the poll tax in 1985-86, and the third Thatcher victory in 1987: ‘the Doomsday scenario’ as it was called (meaning Scotland voted more Labour, but got a Tory Government based on English votes). Read the rest of this entry »

The Continuing Scottish Revolution: Time to Tell New Stories of Scotland

Scottish Review, January 10th 2017

Gerry Hassan

It has been an unprecedented political year, and 2017 will also be full of high drama – globally, across Europe, in the UK, and nearer to home in Scotland.

Politics isn’t everything. Just as important is culture – a word used and over-used, seemingly about everything and everywhere, but difficult, and sometimes impossible to pin down and define.

Culture when we forensically examine it can mean so many things. It can describe individual growth and enrichment. It can be about a group or community’s way of life. It expresses the activities of consuming culture. And finally, it is also used to define the way groups and organisations act and the codes and practices which shape them.

The many facets of culture and the propensity not to define then can be seen in our nation. We have a politics which is meant to be all-encompassing, but often evades detail and substance. Reinforcing this is a widespread characteristic of not wanting to define Scottish culture – for fear of ghettoising and marginalising. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP has got us where we are, but the SNP on its own isn’t enough in the future

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, October 12th 2016

The SNP have played a huge role in getting us to where we are today. They are central to where Scotland goes in the future – but they on their own are not enough.

Without the SNP there is significant doubt that we would ever have got a Scottish Parliament. It is true that Labour legislated for it, but they were first brought back to devolution in the 1970s by the electoral threat of the SNP. Without the SNP there would have been no indyref1, and without them there will be no indyref2.

Therefore Scottish politics owes a great deal of gratitude to the SNP. Just for one second imagine politics over the last 40 years without the SNP. All Scotland would have available to show any dissatisfaction with Westminster and desire for self-government would have been to vote Labour or Lib Dem (with the Greens under FPTP remaining a minuscule force, and without the SNP there being no guarantee Labour reverted to its earlier home rule stance).

All of the above is increasingly important as the SNP prepare to meet for its Annual Conference in Glasgow, but it is also true that the SNP on their own are not enough. And blind loyalty to one party is different from passionate support for ‘the cause’ and, even at times, counter-productive. The SNP contributed hugely to getting us where we are. But they are not enough to take Scotland to the next stage: winning an indyref and making the politics of a new independent state. Read the rest of this entry »

We need a Spirit of Independence to shape the Scotland of the Future

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, September 19th 2016

No one needs reminding that Sunday represented the second anniversary of the indyref. It was a significant watershed: a passing of time from being in the shadow of the 2014 vote to looking to the future.

If that’s true, then an awful lot of attitudes are fairly entrenched. While that’s true of both pro-union and independence opinion, it belies the forces of change to more ruthlessly assess, be honest about failings and foibles, and change and adapt to be successful.

Take this weekend’s polls in ‘Sunday Times Scotland’ on whether voters want a second indyref. It is constantly cited that voters don’t want another indyref anytime soon. The ‘Sunday Times’ front page declared emphatically that ‘Scots against second vote on leaving the UK.’ Ruth Davidson and David Mundell say it all the time – so it must be true.

Trouble was the poll the paper cited said nothing of the kind. The Panelbase survey cited said that, for an indy vote in the next two-three years during Brexit talks, 33% were in favour; in about two-three years after a Brexit deal 21% would support it, and not for a few years 46%. That’s a 54:46 majority for an indyref in the next three years and even the 46% No wasn’t absolute on the wording of the question. Read the rest of this entry »

Are We Better Than This? The Tragic Killing of Jo Cox

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, June 17th 2016

This is an attack on all of us. The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox is an assault on parliamentary democracy but disgracefully not as much a shock as it should be. Part of British politics have sunk that low.

This is an age of anti-party politics – of anger at the political classes and of populist indignation and cynicism. Across Europe, there has been the rise of racist, xenophobic and anti-immigration parties, and even the re-emergence of neo-Nazis as electoral forces in Greece and Hungary. And that’s without mentioning the hideous phenomenon of Donald Trump in the US.

The centre-left and political establishments across the developed world have not known how to respond, and whether to appease or engage with their voters – or to take them head on.

Britain’s European referendum, called by David Cameron, was meant to lance the boil of the Euro issue in the Tory Party, and the threat from UKIP. It has worked in complete reverse, and little more than a year after the unexpected 2015 Tory election victory has galvinised Cameron’s critics, UKIP and Eurosceptic Tory opinion, and helped consolidate a hard right populist politics. Read the rest of this entry »