Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

The European Debate has only just begun for Scotland and the UK

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, November 15th 2015

Europe has returned to the centre of British politics. The phony war within the Tories is over as David Cameron revealed his want list from European leaders.

It wasn’t exactly long or substantial. He wants change in four areas – exempting the UK from ‘ever closer union’, boosting economic competitiveness, protection of the non-euro countries from further integration, and restrictions on EU migrants drawing UK benefits.

These requests are not far-reaching, leading Tory MP Bernard Jenkin to ask ‘is that it?’ and others dismiss them as a ‘rag bag’. Only the last negotiating point is going to cause Cameron problems. But the debate and referendum won’t be about these small details. Read the rest of this entry »

The Appeal and Vision of Tory Britain shouldn’t be underestimated by the left

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 11th 2015

The Tory conference gathered this week in good spirits after unexpectedly winning an overall majority in May, and with all their main UK political opponents in disarray.

One rather significant anniversary passed unnoticed this week. This was the 65th anniversary – the day after Cameron’s speech – of Harold Macmillan’s ‘you’ve never had it so good’ election victory in 1959 when the Tories won a third term and overall majority of 100 seats.

Britain and Scotland have changed dramatically since then. Tories and Labour were national parties; neither is now. In 1959 the Tories won 47.2% of the Scottish vote and 31 seats, whereas this May they won 14.9% – and a solitary MP. Read the rest of this entry »

Corbyn and Anger: Rage Against the Machine is understandable but never ever enough

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, September 20th 2015

Jeremy Corbyn has dominated the news headlines this week.

Let’s start with the obvious – the failure of mainstream politics. Conventional British politics are bust. The Labour right, the Blairites and soft left have nothing to offer their own party, let alone the country.

More seriously, the Cameron Conservatives after five years in office have yet to find a convincing governing mantra. ‘Big society’ and ‘compassionate Conservatism’ are long dead, leaving little that represents Cameron and Osborne beyond living within your means, cutting the deficit, and savagely pruning back the state.

Corbyn’s politics are fed by anger at austerity, the rightward drift of British politics and the incessant war drums, along with the militarisation of much of British life. Far easier it now seems to endlessly celebrate past military triumphs, than mark things much more relevant today, such as the founding of the NHS. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland and Britain Have Changed: The ‘Big Bang’ of the Indy Ref and After

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, September 13th 2015

One year ago Scotland went to the polls.

An amazing 85% of us voted: 45% for independence and 55% against – both expressions of Scottish self-government and a desire for a different Scotland.

Scotland did not vote for independence, but nor did it settle for the status quo of the existing union. Instead, it voted to continue in a kind of interregnum – a transition from something familiar to something still hazy with a destination as yet unknown.

This is a time of great upheaval and unpredictability here, in the UK and globally. The SNP May landslide, the Corbyn surge, the Greek crisis, the humanitarian disaster of Europe, and Chinese economic shudders. Yet, paradoxically Scotland one year on seems to be sitting waiting for the next big thing to turn up. Read the rest of this entry »

One Year on from the IndyRef: Making the Scotland of the Future

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, September 2nd 2015

Scottish public life has dramatically changed in recent times – the SNP 2011 first landslide, the independence referendum, and the 2015 tartan tsunami.

Yet Scotland, like everywhere, is about more than politics. In this and other areas there have been huge changes, but also continuity and conservatism, the balance of which we are still trying to make sense of, and with huge consequences for the future of Scotland and the UK.

Take the indyref. It didn’t come from nowhere. It came in the context of wider change in Scotland – of the decline of the traditional establishment and the old unionist order, and of the potent culture of deference, authority and of people knowing their place which for so long hung over large aspects of society.

The indyref changed many things. But it has become a well-worn cliché to say it has changed everything. What it has done is act simultaneously as a spike, watershed and a catalyst to further change in public life. It will take years to establish the balance between these different forces and, nearly a year after the vote, the pattern of these different dynamics and their impact is still evolving. Read the rest of this entry »

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