Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

What do we do we do about the United Kingdom? And Why Federalism isn’t the Answer

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 4th 2014

In the last few weeks political debate has become filled with talk of the possibility of a federal United Kingdom.

This has come not surprisingly exclusively from pro-union voices. There was Tory MSP Murdo Fraser’s recent thoughtful speech, David Torrance’s short book on British wide federalism, and even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown mulling over the subject.

Murdo Fraser in his Reform Scotland talk said that ‘federalism within the UK, if it were workable and could be achieved, is a solution which could unite both unionists and nationalists, and provide a secure framework for the future’. David Torrance in a ‘Herald’ piece after Fraser’s intervention, cited former Labour MP and academic David Marquand commenting, ‘Does the UK become a federal state, or does it break up?’. Even Gordon Brown has refound his sense of radical constitutionalism, contemplating a written constitution and federalism in all but name.

These developments should be applauded and welcomed as they are trying to deal with some of the challenges of the modern world and the UK, and show a degree of open-mindedness and people being prepared to reconsider previous positions. They should be taken seriously and examined, asking what issues and concerns are they addressing, what are they not addressing, and what are their over-riding motivations? Read the rest of this entry »

A Scotland Beyond Yes and No: My Journey to Yes

Gerry Hassan

National Collective, June 26th 2014

I want to live in a Scotland which is not defined by Yes and No – a world of ‘us’ and ‘them’ – of politics, families and friendships reduced to the emotions of football supporters and tribalism. I want to live in a world of one Scotland and many, multiple, diverse Scotlands.

This is a time of many different debates in our nation; about the nature of our constitutional status and the meaning of independence, about who has power and authority in an age of constant change, the meaning and challenges of globalisation and interdependence, and the concentrations of wealth and status in the new global rich.

For some this current debate is very narrow: centred on competing claims of nationalism (Scottish and British), but for many others, it is about what kind of Scotland and society we want to live in and the discussion over what is the best route to get there. In this, the independence debate is an opening to a wider, generous and outward looking set of possibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Nazis and 1930s are alive and kicking in the independence debate?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 11th 2014

The Nazis are on the rise everywhere. They are cited on both sides of the bitter Ukrainian conflict, in places such as Greece and Hungary with neo-Nazi and fascist parties, and in some of the outrageous comments of the French Front National and even Ukip’s more extreme fringe.

The spectre of the Nazis and fascism have become increasingly omnipotent over the last twenty years to become a defining set of historical and cultural references in the UK, and England in particular. This was aided by Pier Morgan, as editor of the ‘Daily Mirror’, and his use of German caricatures in the Euro football championship of 1996, running front-page headlines declaring ‘Achtung! Surrender’, ‘Krauts’ and ‘Huns’. And now there is the emergence of the Nazis and fascism in the Scottish independence debate.

It is meant to be an irrefutable rule that mentioning the Nazis in an argument is proof that someone is desperate and has lost it. It even has a name – Godwin’s law – but if so it does not seem to translate to large parts of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

The Age of Rage and the Importance of Opposition – in Europe, UK and Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 21st 2014

This week will see from Thursday onward the Euro-elections which will witness the emergence of a host of populists, mavericks and independent voices being elected across the continent.

The mainstream political class is in crisis across Europe. Conventional politicians and political parties are held in widespread and open contempt, often invoking more deep-seated and angry reactions.

There are huge questions for the continent – on the economic front about jobs, growth and the role of markets, on the social model and its continued viability, on public services and spending, demographic pressures with an aging population and shrinking workforce, and fears and anxieties about immigration.

Nowhere is there a sign of solutions from European elites or institutions. The crisis of the banks, sovereign debt and the euro has become one of Europe itself. Related to this the crisis has become one of the continent’s mainstream political traditions: of centre-right Christian Democracy and conservatism, and centre-left social democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

What does the rise of Ukip mean for Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 7th 2014

A new national pastime now exists thanks to the existence and rise of Ukip.

This is the round the clock coverage of the party: often mocking, filled with condescension and a barely concealed incredulity that sane citizens will consider supporting such a party. So far all this has seemed to do is feed the appeal that is the Teflon-like Ukip.

The media of course love and hate Ukip in equal measure. Nigel Farage is the joint most frequent panelist on ‘BBC Question Time’ over the last five years (equal with Tory Ken Clarke).  Whether it is Godfrey Bloom’s many bloomers on women, Africa and climate change, or Roger Helmer MEP (who is standing for the party in the Newark by-election) and his views on rape and gays, none of this so far seems to hurt Ukip.

We can debate the characteristics and qualities of Ukip but it is certainly a populist revolt against the modern world and contemporary UK. There is a rage against the machine, political orthodoxies and political correctness in the party, many of its representatives, members and supporters. Read the rest of this entry »