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Posts Tagged ‘British Establishment’

The UK as we know it can’t survive Brexit and Trump

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian, November 17th 2016

The United Kingdom’s sense of itself and place in the world is more in question now than it was before Donald Trump’s election. It was already facing the precarious process of Brexit that has destabilised the nature of fifty years plus of UK foreign policy and international alliances.

All of this should be a moment for opposition but Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour are missing in action, focusing on internal battles, and letting the struggle with the Tories slip through their fingers. Whatever the views of Corbyn as a leader, this has and is costing the UK dear, and has long-term damaging consequences.

One of these is that the UK – as currently composed – has very little future. To compound the international and national challenges the UK faces, has to be added one based on the territorial dimensions of the state, the failure of the political centre to understand this, and the decline of any popular account of unionism which tells a story about the future of the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Scotland has finally woken up and become a democracy

Gerry Hassan

September 21st 2014

It has been an incredible few years to live in Scotland.

Assumption after assumption about public life, society and the closed order of how politics has been traditionally done, has been turned upside down.

People will still feel raw on either side. Yes people feel deflated and disappointed; No supporters sense that they were forced into a debate they didn’t want to have. But if we step back the bigger picture is an impressive and powerful one.

It is one many of the observers from outside Scotland who came to see the independence referendum witnessed. They saw a nation having a democratic debate in dignity and respect on one of the most fundamental questions any nation could ask itself.

One group who have followed and engaged in our discussion has been English, Welsh and Irish radicals. Think Billy Bragg, John Harris, Will Hutton, Madeleine Bunting and Fintan O’Toole, all of who spoke at the recent Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas, sponsored by the Sunday Herald. Read the rest of this entry »

The UK has failed but we have to address Scottish shortcomings

Gerry Hassan

Newsnet Scotland, April 26th 2014

The Scottish independence debate is about many things. It is about the state of modern Scotland and its different possible futures. But it is also about the condition of the UK, its multiple crises and how these impact north of the border.

The state of the United Kingdom is one of the main drivers of the Scottish debate. It has become an accepted fact that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, ranked fourth in a study by Prof. Danny Dorling of Oxford University. London is, on some indicators, the most unequal city in the entire developed world.

The City of London and London as a world city ‘crowd out’ the rest of the UK: the latter accounting for 12% of UK population and 22% of GDP. The UK has become disfigured by uneven economic development on a scale unseen in the rest of Western Europe. Then there is the level of debt which the UK has counting personal, corporate and state debts which has fallen from 502% in September 2012 to 471% at the end of 2013 according to McKinsey: the second highest of any major economy apart from Japan. Government debt, the part that obsesses Cameron and Osborne, represents just over one-sixth of all UK debt. Read the rest of this entry »

The Birth Pains of Scottish Democracy and the Anguish of ‘Posh Scotland’

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 26th 2014

Many strange things will be written about Scotland this year. Some will be uncomprehending, some inappropriate or wrong, with others likely to be malevolent and wishing to sew seeds of confusion or distrust.

One existing strand is the pain expressed by some English media voices. There is the liberal ‘Guardian’ reading classes, some of whom have just bothered in the last few weeks to look north from their cosmopolitan concerns and to plea, ‘don’t leave us alone with the wicked Tories’. Then there is the ‘Daily Telegraph’/’Daily Mail’ land of ill-concealed anger about ‘separatism’, derogatory comments about Alex Salmond, and a confusion over whether they really want Scotland to stay or go.

Sometimes interventions cannot be easily categorisable, or while coming from one particular perspective, give voice to a viewpoint which hasn’t been expressed or articulated in public. This was the case with Hugo Rifkind’s recent piece on ‘posh Scotland’ (his words and sentiment) in ‘The Spectator’ and its clarion call to awaken and ride to the defence of the union in crisis.

Rifkind’s ‘posh Scotland’ wasn’t a place for anyone with decent prospects; this wasn’t, as he made clear, anything to do with Ed Miliband’s struggling middle classes, or by implication, ‘the middlin’ folk’ of Scotland. Instead, this was about privilege, wealth and power: the people who run things, own large tracts of Scotland, are privately educated, and believe that the state, if it has to do anything, is there for poor people (and keeping those people a safe distance from them). Read the rest of this entry »

What happens after the demise of ‘the Holy Trinity’ of Britishness?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 17th 2013

It has been a week of momentous events. The unfolding Egyptian tragedy, the restarting of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, and in our corner of the world, the first Scotland v. England match in over a decade.

It feels inappropriate and insensitive to mention a mere football match in the company of such historic events. Yet, I think with that caveat the game mattered because it offered a glimpse of future possible arrangements. Two neighbours and friends with a rich, shared history, but who have slowly drifted apart. And in this slow semi-detachment, they have begun to appreciate each other in a new light. At least, that’s what I thought about the football.

Much of the Scottish debate and sentiment seems at times to not connect to wider dynamics and factors, from the state of British politics to wider global issues. Clearly the same can be said about some of the central delusions which have a vice like grip on British politics.

One of the defining factors in Scottish sensibilities is the state of the pan-British institutions which used to contribute towards the expression in both popular will and institutional form of a collective sense of modern Britishness. Read the rest of this entry »

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