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Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party’

Brexit, Dunkirk and a Britain Where the Past Shapes the Future

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, July 26th 2017

The past is always around us in what passes for modern Britain.

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, it seems more omnipotent and increasingly problematic. From politics to culture and most aspects of public life we are confronted with a fantasyland version of the collective past which is selective and sepia-tinged. This matters because it reduces the prospect of us believing that we can make a better collective future than the nasty, mean-spirited reality which is for too many contemporary Britain.

This predicament comes into full view in the summer of 2017 and in Christopher Nolan’s just released film ‘Dunkirk’. This has attracted many plaudits for its grand scale, alongside its depiction of chaos and confusion. But it has also attracted comment (including critical ones) for its lack of characters, central story, and context (one of which is the absence of any Germans or overall strategy from either side).

However it did portray powerfully the gathering foreboding and claustrophobia on the Dunkirk beachhead as the Germans closed in on the trapped British and French forces. This was after all the greatest British military disaster and reverse ever in the country’s history. In military terms it rates much higher than the American Wars of Independence and Irish independence – which were geo-political defeats – or the much cited humiliations of the loses of Tobruk, Singapore and Hong Kong in 1942. This is epic history on every level: a bigger encirclement of men than even at Stalingrad, and the biggest amphibious military rescue ever undertaken by anyone. Read the rest of this entry »

The Tory Fantasyland Version of Britain hits the buffers

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, March 20th 2016

George Osborne presented his eighth and potentially last Budget. Bad politics. Dodgy decisions and finances. All leading to Iain Duncan Smith’s sensational resignation sparking bitter Tory divisions.

Osborne is a very political chancellor, convinced of his own sure touch which his record doesn’t bear out. A mere 111 days before his budget he presented a glowing Autumn Statement which he has had to tear up and correct downward; by the sum total of £56 billion.

Even worse, he is missing the targets which he set himself – on debt and the welfare cap, and only meeting the third, on a fiscal surplus, by the end of this Parliament by a sleight of hand moving monies forward one year.

This was a more highly political budget than usual: with Osborne focused on the Euro referendum and coming Tory leadership contest when Cameron stands down. Already he had to drop ambitions for pension reform due to Tory nerves, and opposition to disability cuts began to make another U-turn likely – and led to the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain’s Elites can no longer control our politics:

The European Vote will change Britain and Scotland Forever

Gerry Hassan

Bella Caledonia, February 26th 2016

The European referendum is a milestone for Scotland and the UK.

It is impossible to understate the historic times we are witnessing – a British establishment and political elite no longer in command of politics and affairs of the state in a way they are used to. The Economist this week, well known for its advocacy of economic liberalism and the maintenance of the union of the UK, acknowledged that this vote was ‘not only the most crucial event in this Parliament but the most important in Europe in years’ (February 27th 2016).

What such mainstream accounts don’t say is that the nature of the UK, its component parts, how it does politics, and limited, truncated form of democracy, is being radically altered, and will be further changed by the Euro vote, in ways far reaching and in many respects unintended. Below are an exploration of some of the many ways this will happen at a British and Scottish level over the course of the campaign, the possible result and aftermath.

FOUR NATION POLITICS:

1. The end of British politics will be confirmed. The 2015 UK election was the least British on record. The EU referendum will show four very different versions of politics across the four nations of the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

The European debate begins but what about a debate about Britain?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 21st 2016

After months of rumours the official countdown to the European referendum on June 23rd begins.

This is David Cameron’s triumph, the high point of his Premiership, and the beginning of the end for him. Whatever the merits of his ‘deal’, power now and particularly after the vote, irrespective of the result, flows away from him.

It is a huge moment for Britain. Its ‘special status’ in Europe has been formally recognised – making explicit something obvious from the moment the UK joined the Common Market in 1973.

The rhetoric of In and Out will be over the top. Despite this the choices will not be clear-cut. The difference between the UK remaining and leaving is much less than both sides claim.

If the UK votes to stay it will remain a semi-detached part of the EU – defined by its opt-outs from the Euro and the Schengen ‘open borders’ agreement. If the UK decides to leave it would still have an intimate relationship with the EU – with the main change Outers argue being the UK foregoing its formal voice in EU institutions: the Council of Ministers, Commission and Parliament. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great British Economic Miracle is an Illusion

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 31st 2016

Something is wrong with the British economy.

George Osborne seems to be experiencing his own ‘Boom and Bust’. Just before Christmas he was singing the joys of the British economy on the mend.  Yet a few weeks later he changed his tone talking of the uncertain economic times.

He hasn’t had to look too far for his troubles – from the tax credits’ chaos where he had to do a U-turn, to this week’s judgement that the bedroom tax was illegal and discriminated against domestic violence victims and disabled people.

If that wasn’t bad enough there was his ‘deal’ with Google where Osborne reached an agreement that they pay £130 million in lieu of taxes over the last ten years. This is a paltry 3% corporate tax rate – the lowest in the developed world.

The ghost of a former Chancellor hangs over Osborne – Gordon Brown – the man who said he ‘abolished Boom and Bust’. The similarities are two-fold: political and economic. Both have positioned themselves as the heir apparent behind their more electorally appealing colleague, David Cameron for Osborne and Tony Blair for Brown. Read the rest of this entry »

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