Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

The Rise and Fall of the House of Scottish Labour

Gerry Hassan

June 22nd 2015

The story of the Scottish Labour Party was, until recently, one of the defining stories of Scotland over most of the 20th century.

First there was its rise – the emergence of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the socialist pioneers, and how radicalism gave way to respectability. Second, there was the ‘golden era’ of action and purpose – of Tom Johnston, and the big ideas and schemes, which began to fade as Labour morphed in the 1960s and 1970s into the political establishment. And finally, there has been the slow decline of the party, which accelerated in recent reverses to the SNP – most spectacularly, the near complete wipeout at the May 2015 general election.

A month and a half after the SNP triumph and Labour rout, which historian Tom Devine called Labour’s ‘Culloden’ (1), there is still an inability on all sides, victors and vanquished, to come to terms with the new landscape. There are still missing stories and voices. On the most basic level, politicians are human beings first and politicians second. A whole host of Labour politicians taken out in May are going through various stages of shock, bewilderment, even anger – equivalent to coming to terms with bereavement.

It isn’t a surprise then, that in the immediate aftermath, a number of Labour MPs who lost their seats just took themselves out of public life. For BBC Scotland’s documentary, ‘The Fall of Scottish Labour’ (2) shown tonight, in which I am interviewed, several former senior politicians including Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran refused to be involved, intimating that it was just too early. Read the rest of this entry »

The Greek Crisis matters to Scotland, Britain and Europe – as well as Greece

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 21st 2015

Europe is not a happy place.

The European Union has failed to agree a common stance on the human disaster of Mediterranean immigrants, while Vladimir Putin has used military aggression to alter the boundaries of Russia and Ukraine and annex Crimea, as Europe has stood by.

Closer to home, Britain is preparing for a referendum on whether or not to continue its EU membership – the first full member state to ever do so. And then most seriously, there is the continuing Greek crisis.

The EU has been through financial crises in recent times – from Portugal and Spain to Ireland – but the Greek one is the most serious yet. Current betting odds on whether Greece will leave the euro, the ‘Grexit’, have narrowed dramatically. Read the rest of this entry »

Debating with ‘The Economist’ its Scottish Independence Coverage

An Exchange between Gerry Hassan and Jeremy Cliffe

June 11th 2015

June 10th 2015 17.00

Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your letter of May 14th (1). Zanny has asked me to reply on
her behalf.

On our use of “secession”, “secessionist” and “separatist”, I refer
you to my email of March 24th. On “partition” and “dismemberment”, I
repeat the points made in that earlier message. Those terms are
descriptive and accurate. We use them in other contexts where – unlike
that of the United Kingdom – we support the separation in question.
For example, we welcomed both the “dismemberment” of the FSA and the
“partition” of Sudan.

Nor is Scotland’s pro-independence movement the only one of its kind
to which we apply such language. As a keen reader of The Economist you
will know that we  use “secession” and “separatist” in our coverage of
its Catalan and Quebcois counterparts. Indeed, a quick perusal of our
recent pieces on Catalan nationalism shows that we have used every one
of the terms to which you object in that context too. Read the rest of this entry »

A Man of Principle and the End of an Era of Liberal Radicalism

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 7th 2015

Politics and public life in Britain caught its breath this week with the tragic death of Charles Kennedy.

MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber for the past 32 years; leader of the Lib Dems from 1999-2006; the youngest MP elected to the Commons in 1983 at the age of 23 – none of these do justice to the talents, principles and wit of Kennedy.

He got, as many people have said, many big things right. He was the most successful Lib Dem leader electorally since 1923; the most prominent political leader against the Iraq war disaster; the only Lib Dem MP who voiced his opposition to the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in 2010.

Kennedy represented a long and historic tradition in Scottish and Liberal life: that of Highland radicalism: a lineage which gave us Jo Grimond and contributed to maintaining the Liberal presence in British life in the 1950s. Read the rest of this entry »

A Letter to the Editor of ‘The Economist’ on Scotland and Scottish Independence

Gerry Hassan

June 4th 2015

Dear Zanny,

I am a long-term reader and admirer of ‘The Economist’.

Even when I disagree with the magazine’s position I know that I can trust it to aid myself learning and becoming more knowledgeable on an issue.

This is true across the globe, and subject matters, with one consistent exception: the subject of Scottish independence.

I am not talking about ‘The Economist’s’ anti-independence stance, which you are perfectly entitled to take. Nor would I wish to dwell on the appropriateness or not of the infamous ‘Skintland’ cover. Instead, I am talking about something much more embedded: the language and terminology ‘The Economist’ consistently uses to frame this issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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