Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

‘Peak SNP’ and how Scotland and the UK are changing

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, April 28th 2015

Scotland is everywhere in the news only a few months after the indyref. Scotland and its politics are being widely discussed and portrayed not just north of the border, but by UK media and politicians, as well as getting significant international coverage.

Scotland feels different. It is as if something fundamental has shifted in how voters see politics, the consequences of their votes, and themselves.

For years a sizeable segment of voters have thought at Westminster elections that the most important issue was voting Labour and holding the line in Scotland in the hope of keeping the Tories out and electing a Labour Government. This sentiment so prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s seems to have dissipated: the dam which once held so firm, has well and truly burst.

Now an SNP wave looks like it will engulf most Scottish Labour seats and notables in what will amount to a popular tartan tsunami remaking the political map of Scotland – one with profound implications for the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain’s Political Classes are living in a Fantasyland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 19th 2015

What is this election about? To Westminster politicians it seems centred on the claims and counter-claims of monies: public spending, the deficit and debt.

Take Labour, Tories and Lib Dems. The Tories are openly committed to £30 billion of cuts in the next Parliament. The SNP and many left-wingers say the same of Labour who flatly deny this.

There is ambiguity on whether Labour are pro or anti-cuts. Jim Murphy has said that Labour would not need to make ‘further cuts to achieve our spending plans’, but Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna have contradicted this.

Then there are the spending commitments. The Tories in particular have offered ‘the good life’ with £8 billion extra for the NHS, up to £4.5 million on housing association right to buy, and a significant extension to childcare: all uncosted. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland isn’t Mad, but Animated and Engaged

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, April 12th 2015

The election has definitely taken off this week.

There were the two Scottish leader debates. The Tories getting personal with Ed Miliband. Labour daring to talk about tax.

Scotland is in a different place. Some once thoughtful pro-union commentators have scratched their heads and come to the conclusion – ‘Scotland has gone mad’ and talked of ‘the madness of Scottish politics’.

It is never good to start citing ‘madness’ and nearly always reflects back on who said it. The fact that pro-union commentators think this demonstrates the degree of their disenchantment and alienation from the state of modern Scotland.

The Scottish election feels very different from any others in my lifetime. This is more than the SNP surge, or the condition of Scottish Labour. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland, the Clash of Two Nationalisms and ‘the Children of the Echo’

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, April 7th 2015

Scotland has always had a reputation for tempestuous disagreements – for fighting and flyting. Power, passion, tribalism and men staying in pubs for long hours drinking and insulting each other are long-standing notions.

Last Saturday I went to Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre to see David Hare’s ‘The Absence of War’ set in the run-up to Neil Kinnock’s ill-fated campaign in the 1992 general election.

Watching it in the turmoil of the current election campaign, and on the day of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ story that claimed ‘Sturgeon’s secret backing for Cameron’, it made for the older centre-left audience a lot of contemporary sense.

In the period since the early 1990s, mainstream UK politics have become even more stage-managed and choreographed. Two decades ago Kinnock’s Labour Party’s obsession with its opponents, the Tories and Tory-supporting press, ended up giving their enemies strength that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Read the rest of this entry »

The disunited Kingdom and the confusion in Britain’s political elites

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, April 5th 2015

Scotland is still making the news. The tartan tsunami that is the SNP surge shows little to no sign of abating as election day approaches.

Beyond Scotland’s shores the UK and international media are making frequent references to the debate north of the border. Strangely some of this coverage – mostly in London based outlets – is even more ill-informed and inaccurate than was seen during the indyref. This is itself no mean feat.

Then most neutral and pro-union opinion thought No would win. They had two years to understand and come to terms with the indyref debate, knew its date from a distance and some of the contours of the environment.

After the indyref things were meant to return to the status quo. Normal service would be resumed. Scotland anchored into the union anew would do its usual thing and return a bloc of 40 or so mostly non-descript Labour representatives to Westminster. The SNP after its rebuttal in the referendum would slowly see the shine wear off their credentials in government as fiscal realities and the constraints of devolution took their toil. Read the rest of this entry »

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