Posts Tagged ‘Compass’

Breaking the Grip of ‘Fantasy Island Britain’:

Social Justice, Scotland and the UK

Compass, March 15th 2012

Gerry Hassan

The Scottish independence debate has many dimensions, Scottish, English, British, European and global. It is also one that the insular London political class and media have only episodically covered the last forty years, being content to rest on ‘Braveheart’ and romantic, restless nationalist stereotypes.

It is then timely and apposite that the Fabian Society in association with Compass held a discussion under the theme, ‘Debating the Scottish Independence Referendum: What Future for the United Kingdom?’ with Labour MPs, Jon Cruddas, Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and Gemma Doyle, along with myself, in the Houses of Parliament this week.

The evening showed some of the many comfort zones and delusions which Scottish Labour still hold to after its 2011 Scottish Parliament election humiliation. The two Scottish Labour MPs and Anas Sarwar in particular, spoke a language of renewal and urgency but which seemed mostly devoid of real political understanding or content. Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Death of Labour Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Compass, May 11th 2011

Scotland is living in historic times. An election that was seen by many of us as a transition from the old Labour Scotland to a more Nationalist era, has suddenly become one of epic transformation.

Scottish Labour won a mere 31.7% of the constituency vote and 26.3% of the regional vote; it took a mere 15 out of 73 FPTP constituencies. This broke a number of unenviable records for the party; the lowest number of FPTP seats since the disaster of 1931, and the worst share of the constituency vote since 1918, before Labour became a major national party in Scotland.

This has been a long time coming. What we have seen is the slow decline of Scottish Labour: part of a long hollowing out, without a major spike or tipping point until Thursday. Devolution was always going to challenge and undermine the Labour one party state which had grown to dominate Scottish political and public life: a point no one senior in the party seemed to grasp. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Conversation on Compass with Jeremy Gilbert

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 14th 2011

Gerry,

When I was at Sussex Jonathan Dollimore used to have a great riposte to ever carping postgrad who complained that he hadn’t mentioned x y or z issue in his latest paper – “Great point – now why don’t YOU go and write about that?”

Gerry you’ve been complaining for more than a year now that Compass doesn’t address these issues, but I have three points to make in response:

1) You’ve never given more than the vaguest hint as to what it would actually look like if Compass DID address those issues…so why don’t you write up some positive proposals as to how Compass’ policy and strategic agenda could be extended in line with your arguments, instead of just complaining that Neal and John or whoever haven’t done it already? Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Compass: The Problem with the British State

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 12th 2011

After Neal Lawson and John Harris wrote a call for ‘New Socialism’ in the ‘New Statesman’ (1) I responded (2). Now Neal has posted a note about what I said (3). He feels that I am being uncomradely and this upsets him as I have long been complementary of Compass’ work and have collaborated with them in a number of ways.

I consider myself a friend and admirer of Compass and its work. In these challenging times they are one of the few bright spots on the left: attempting to revitalise a left project that is in serious trouble. Given this, we need – much more than we ever have done – honest, genuine debate and discussion amongst friends that includes criticism.

It was in that spirit that I offered my original contribution: as a friend and admirer, who is also at times frustrated at the continued omissions and silences from within so much of the British left, Compass included. I find it telling that the central questions that I pointed out were missing in John Harris and Neal Lawson’s original essay – and that I challenged them to address – are still not answered, indeed they are not even acknowledged in Neal’s reply. Read the rest of this entry »

After New Labour, the Limits of the New Socialism and the Need for a Radical Politics

Gerry Hassan

Compass, December 20th 2010

British politics are in a strange place – one where while some of the landscape remains the same so much is different. All of the three main parties have been disorientated by the result of the election and coalition along with the scale of the crisis.

One response to this from parts of the left is to retreat into the hoary old slogans of opposition and struggle, of shouting ‘Tory cuts’ without strategy or the need for rethinking. Another approach of part of the centre-left is to hope it can at an elite level influence the Labour leadership and win it to a progressive agenda; an approach which has paid scant dividends throughout history and nearly always ended in disappointment.

The dominant Westminster commentariat opinion has already established its position on Labour after the election. The narrative is that Labour is heading back to its old comfort zones and that Ed Miliband has already failed as Labour leader: branded by the mainstream media as illegitimate, indecisive and lacking in political strategy.

Then there are the opinion polls. Labour may be cheered by the polls – and in most it is at or above 40% – and ahead of the Conservatives. However, Miliband’s ratings – are so critics allege – the lowest for any new leader apart from Michael Foot, William Hague and Nick Clegg; Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair and David Cameron all had higher ratings. The argument is clear: Ed Miliband is a loser. Read the rest of this entry »