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Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

Brexit is turning Britain upside down – and Scotland has a chance to say No

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment, January 15th 2018

Brexit has turned British politics and Britain itself upside down. But to the UK Government and Westminster political classes it is business as usual on the home front as far as Brexit and everything else is concerned.

Not for them that Brexit is nearly entirely an English revolt (with Welsh acquiescence), or that Scotland and Northern Ireland are being dragged along against majority sentiment in their territories.

Today the Scottish Government published its latest paper on Brexit, ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment’ which estimates that a hard Brexit would cost the Scottish economy £12.7bn a year by 2030, representing £2,300 per year for every person in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in her typical, no nonsense manner at its launch. But while Sturgeon is consistently impressive, she has to deal with inconvenient realities. Namely, that the UK Government have consistently marginalised Scotland in the Brexit process. Read the rest of this entry »

The World in 2018: Trump, Brexit, Britain and the Scottish Debate

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, January 10th 2018

The New Year is always a time for reflection. I spent the Christmas and New Year break in the United States, providing an opportunity for reflection and a different take on the world.

Two and a half weeks in an American urban setting, even in one of the wealthiest and most creative clusters in the country around Boston and Cambridge, showcases what works and what doesn’t. Conspicuous wealth sits side-by-side crumbling infrastructure and poverty personified by the MBTA train system that looks like it last had serious investment in the 1950s or 1960s.

The American media have an understandable obsession with Trump – at the moment along with extreme weather. Britain is only visible through Brexit and the latest Royal wedding. One well-stocked secondhand bookshop for example had a large number of books in its British section, but on closer examination more than half were on the royals.

Brexit fascinates the Americans and gets some coverage, but isn’t really understood. Scotland is an afterthought at best, and often confused with Ireland. The only media mention of Scotland in the States during the holidays was the Cameron House Hotel fire by Loch Lomond. This shows that disasters and even mini-disasters can have global reach – as the 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire achieved, or in a different kind of implosion, that of Rangers FC. Read the rest of this entry »

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2017

December 15th 2017

Here is a selection of my books of the year. By its nature, this is subjective – made up of books I have read, enjoyed and been impressed by, and isn’t thus an attempt to comprehensively cover every subject. While the vast majority of books listed were published this year, there are a few from late 2016, and a couple published before then.

Scotland: My Favourite Books of the Year

James Robertson, Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment, Big Sky Press

This is a beautifully produced book on a precious talent – musician and artist Michael Marra. Robertson makes this book about Marra on every page, and about something more – the creative muse, modern culture and contemporary Scotland.

Diane M. Watters, St. Peter’s, Cardross: Birth, Death and Renewal, Historic Environment Scotland

A stunning testimony, in text and photograph, to St. Peter’s Seminary by Cardross. The book covers post-war modernism, the hopes behind building St. Peter’s and what went wrong – resulting in the present ruin that the arts organisation NVA hope to make into a space for cultural and public discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Brown: The Ghost in the Machine

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 14th 2017

Gordon Brown, like him or loath him, was a titan of a figure in British politics for close on two decades. Along now comes Brown’s attempt at putting his case and a call for understanding and redemption in his autobiography – ‘My Life, Our Times’.

It comes with much baggage for all who will read and encounter it, including from the author himself who goes through the pretense that he had to be reluctantly dragged into writing it, explaining himself: ‘For me, being conspicuously demonstrative is uncomfortable – to the point where it has taken me years, despite the urging of friends, to turn to writing this book.’

Gordon Brown’s life story could be gripping and compelling. It contains all the hallmarks of good drama. Here is a man gifted with rare talents and drive; who knew he wanted to serve. At an early age comes tragedy when he is deprived of eyesight in one eye. This does not stop the young Brown but only makes him more determined and resolute. Read the rest of this entry »

Sexual Misbehaviour is the concern of all of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, November 8th 2017

A spectre is haunting British politics. At a time of high wire politics, instability and the biggest constitutional challenge – Brexit – in post-war times, the political classes are obsessed with allegations of sexual impropriety, harassment and abuse.

This affects all the main parties and at the most senior levels – the Conservatives and de facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green, Labour’s Kelvin Hopkins, the Lib Dems with the previous Lord Rennard scandal, and the SNP with the resignation of Children’s minister Mark McDonald. While allegations have centred on the House of Commons and ‘the Palace of Pestminster’, other legislatures such as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are not exempt.

This is a political, cultural and ethical storm. There are clearly a whole spectrum of allegations from former Defence minister Michael Fallon putting his hand on journalist Julia Hartley Brewer, to allegations of groping, grooming and even rape. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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