Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

‘You’re Fired’: Jeremy Corbyn and what Voters Want to Say to the Political Classes

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 26th 2015

This week Tony Blair compared Scottish nationalism to ‘cavemen’ and told supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who wanted to vote with their heart to ‘get a transplant.’

You always know something is up when the political insults start flying. Labour have no idea what has happened in Scotland, and to compound matters for the party establishment, this week saw the rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership challenge.

The trigger was a poll which put Corbyn not just ahead of the other contenders in the Labour leadership contest but actually winning it. Now this will not, in all likelihood, happen. Corbyn in many senses has already ‘won’ – by forcing the debate leftwards. He does not want to ‘win’ in the formal sense, knowing this would be counter-productive both for him and the party.

All of this says legions about the state of Labour and politics. First, both Labour and the Lib Dems are heading leftwards post-election. Second, neither is any nearer in working out how to do credible opposition. Both are in the midst of what can only be described as identity crises. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nationalist Lion Roars at Westminster!

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 19th 2015

The times are changing in Scotland and Britain: the SNP impact at Westminster; Tory maneouvres to hurt, harm and trap Labour on union reform and welfare, and the vacuum of Labour and Lib Dems post-election defeat.

The SNP scored early blood on fox-hunting and English votes for English laws – forcing government postponement on the first and regrouping and redrafting on the second. This has produced Tory anger and fury at the Nationalists, and eventually see the Tories attempt to get their revenge.

A significant part of the SNP’s impact has been due to the marginalising of the Labour and Lib Dem opposition, both parties licking their wounds and without leaderships for the last two months. The Lib Dems have rectified that this week, electing Tim Farron. Labour’s contest has shown the nadir the party has fallen to, and the dullness of the three mainstream candidates: all of which has produced the unlikely summer sensation of Jeremy Corbyn’s sudden rise in popularity. Read the rest of this entry »

The Summer of the Living Undead: A Labour Party for What?

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 15th 2015

The Labour leadership contest is noteworthy for a number of factors, none positive or helpful for the party.

Labour have just suffered their second consecutive defeat. They finished 113 seats behind the Tories in England. It has now become a cliché to say they face an existential crisis; as Matthew Norman pointed out in ‘The Independent’ this week, it is in fact a ‘post-existential crisis’ (1). The party is in collective denial, retreating into its comfort zones, and almost numb at the position it finds itself in.

Previously when Labour lost (and it has lost many times), the party did attempt to wake up and regroup. Post-1979 the party in opposition had five leadership contests. Excluding the Benn kamikaze run in 1988, when he won a mere 11% of the vote, the other contests – 1980, 1983, 1992 and 1994 – all provided rich evidence of a party with debate, energy and ideas. No longer.

This is a defining moment about whether Labour has a future, what it is for, as well as for centre-left British (and in particular English) politics. Here are ten observations about the state of Labour and the current contest: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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