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Posts Tagged ‘British Media’

Clearing the Scottish Fog of War

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 28th 2015

This has been a momentous news week. The Greek crisis; Britain and Europe; the human desperation at Calais; and the related tragedy in the Mediterranean.

While this has been going on Scotland has had its own mini-ripples which pale in comparison. There was the controversy over Royal Family funding and the Crown Estate in Scotland, and at the same time, the ongoing problem of cybernat abuse and social media misbehaviour.

The Royal story saw a whole range of UK papers run front-page headlines stating ‘Scotland to cancel funding for Queen’ and ‘Scots won’t pay £2m bill for Queen.’ The most over the top came from the London ‘Times’ which in an editorial entitled ‘Insurrection’, claimed that the Scottish Government was leading a ‘rebellion’.

Trouble was no such story existed. The papers had been victims of a Buckingham Palace media operation to flush out the SNP on changes to the Sovereign Fund – what the Civil List is now called. In so doing, they seemed to believe what they wanted to and confused a number of basic facts – such as the fundamental difference between the Sovereign Fund and the Crown Estate. Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Death of Liberal England Continued

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 30th 2014

Liberal England is in a state of confusion. There is the challenge of the Scottish independence referendum, the continued right wing drift of UK politics, and the slow detachment of the UK from the European Union.

All of the above cause apoplexy and dismay to the thinking elements of the English left. One response to this from people such as Labour MP John Cruddas and Billy Bragg is to try to re-ignite the English radical imagination and challenge the increasingly English nationalist overtones of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. A second response from the likes of Ken Loach and Owen Jones believe in the ‘Spirit of 45’ being invoked shaped by romanticism and simplistic, wishful thinking.

However, the largest group by far on the English left in intellectual circles is in denial about the state of Britain. This is not a happy or confident time to be a progressive in England, and despite the actions of thirty years of post-war Labour Governments (thirteen of them under the recent auspices of New Labour), it cannot be claimed seriously that Britain is becoming a better, fairer place. Progressive politics has given up believing that it can create the future, instead pessimistically sensing that the right have the best tunes to fit our times and laid claim to tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

The Unions of the United Kingdom are Changing

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, October 26th 2013

This week the British media turned its attention to the christening of the Royal Baby with the headlines ‘Gorgeous George’, continued its obsessions with who said what and apologised for what in ‘Plebgate’, and allowed for an occasional airing of the issue which rocked Scotland: the potential closure of Grangemouth petrochemical plant.

Such coverage shows the growing divergence between the London media and political world and the concerns of Scotland, but a small part of the thoughtful English media turned its attention to the implications from the Scottish debate for the UK, in ways which tell us a lot about how Scotland is changing and the nature of the UK.

Adam Price, a former Plaid Cymru MP, wrote in ‘The Guardian’ about the collapsing state of Britain’s national institutions and the trashing of public goods and services by the Cameron government. He addressed accurately the increasingly apocryphal language of the ‘Better Together’ camp which he believes ‘carries with it the not so subtle subtext of a married couple pondering the upheavals of divorce’. Read the rest of this entry »

A Memo to James Naughtie on his Return to Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, October 10th 2013

Dear Jim,

It has come to my attention that you planning to move north to cover the independence referendum, admittedly for only two days a week.

Since you last worked in Scotland in 1977 a lot has altered that you might find at first a bit bewildering. Scotland has changed, not entirely in ways immediately apparent or straightforward. Some institutions which have the same names as 36 years ago have changed, nearly totally out of recognition. New bodies and different ways of things of doing things have emerged.

To save you time and reading, considering that you are only here two days a week, here is a short guide to what’s changed and what’s not changed, and how to make some sense of the public life of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s comforting stories and the missing voices of public life

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 24th 2013

Scotland in its politics, culture and sense of its identity likes to tell itself a comforting story.

There was once a Labour Scotland optimistic story of lifting working people up, and now there is a Nationalist account about the possibilities of independence. There is even a positive pro-union version that has not been fully articulated in public for many years.

All of these are partial accounts, and one of the many challenges they face is the continued existence of negative stories which emphasise that we are too small, too poor, too divided, and above all, just too Scottish, to do anything about changing our country.

One of the positive accounts of modern Scotland which has risen in recent years has been the richness of artistic and cultural Scotland. This was witnessed in the recent Creative Scotland stramash which saw its Chief Executive Andrew Dixon shown the door. An organised group of artists and cultural figures saw themselves as defending the interests of a community and a set of inclusive, enlightened values. Read the rest of this entry »

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