Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party’

We are One Scotland: Anatomy of a Referendum

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, September 24th 2014

It was a momentous moment in Scottish and British history. The Scottish independence referendum. It dominated Scottish and British airwaves in the last couple of weeks, and became a huge international story.

Nearly every single cliché has been dug up, used and then over-used to exhaustion. What then as the excitement, claim and counter-claim quieten down, is there left to say and do? Actually, there is quite a lot.

Let’s talk about the immediate reactions post-vote from the Scottish and British political classes. They both have so far let us down, speaking for their narrow interests and party advantage, with no one addressing wider concerns.

Take the SNP leadership. Five days after the vote neither Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon has reached out to the 55% or offered any words of congratulation, recognition or understanding. Both were conspicuous by their absence from the Church of Scotland service of reconciliation on Sunday. The three pro-union parties were all represented by their leaders; the SNP by John Swinney.

Then there is the Westminster political classes. From David Cameron’s first announcement on Friday morning at 7am, they have been out on political manoeuvres advancing and promoting narrow self-interests. Cameron in that morning address was conciliatory in tone and style, but in content, was ruthlessly and naked calculating, linking Scottish ‘devo max’ to the idea of English votes for English laws. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dangers of the Right-Wing Revolutionaries in the UK and US

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, October 13th 2013

The world as we know it stands on the brink of extinction. It could literally come to an end next Thursday on October 17th.

This is not some Nostradamus style prediction but the stand-off between Democrats and Republicans in the US over whether to raise the debt ceiling.

There have already been two weeks of the US shutdown with numerous levels of government inactive. There have been no food inspections or publically funded medical drug trials, while 800,000 government employees remain furloughed.

We like to think that the America is a foreign land very different from us and that this sort of thing could not possibly happen here. Well, aside from the different constitutional niceties it could because, leaving aside religious zealotry which the US does a fine line in, much of the political dynamic that brought the US to this impasse exists in the UK and is growing unchallenged by the day. Read the rest of this entry »

A Rare Moment of Wisdom at the Heart of British Democracy

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, August 31st 2013

Parliamentary debates about military intervention are often rightly solemn occasions. They carry the weight of history and memories of past triumphs and disasters.

The Syria debate this week had initially been downplayed by the Cameron government as it faced the realities of parliamentary arithmetic and the possibility of defeat. But this was historic, evoking past even more momentous debates, and opening a chapter in British foreign policy which could see military intervention in Syria without the UK.

The entire parliamentary debate on Syria was coloured with the shadow of Tony Blair and Iraq hanging over it. At times in the last week it seemed like Groundhog Day Britain replaying the tensions, controversies and even the same terminology as March 2003 over Iraq.

There was the veracity and claims of intelligence, the issue of legal advice from the Attorney General, the role of the United Nations, and parliamentary approval (or non-approval as it turned out). There was even the intervention of Tony Blair, making the case for war and democracy (the last of which extended to support for the Egyptian military coup). Read the rest of this entry »

Four Nations and a Funeral: The Demise of the British Welfare State

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, March 30th 2013

The British welfare state is meant to be one of the ties that bind us together; along with the NHS and the BBC representing our common strands of citizenship.

Each has been remarkably eroded in recent years but on Monday April 1st huge changes will occur in the first two – the welfare state and NHS in England – which will have massive consequences for hundreds of thousands of people up and down this country already hard pressed and vulnerable, and for the very idea of Britain itself.

A host of benefit changes are away to occur: the bedroom tax, the abolition of Disability Living Allowance, the housing benefit cap and a real cut in most benefits. At the same time, there will be the biggest overhaul of the NHS in England in decades, with private health care providers the world over drooling at the prospect of getting their hands on the NHS billions.

This is not the mandate David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith stood on in 2010. Cameron impressed on people that he was a different kind of ‘compassionate conservative’, stressing the perils of inequality and poverty, and citing the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s influential ‘The Spirit Level’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Beginning of the End of ‘the Global Kingdom’

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, March 9th 2013

This week something momentous happened for the future of the Britain, its economy and politics, for Europe, and our relationship with the continent.

The European Union proposed and agreed a curb on bankers bonuses, over-riding the predictable opposition of the UK Government and George Osborne.

The EU proposals supported by the European Commission, European Central Bank, and 26 out of 27 EU members, will put a ceiling on banker bonuses of one year’s salary, or two years if approved by a large majority of shareholders.

There was the usual outcries from the British Bankers Association, CBI and others: people who go by the description, ‘the business community’, but are actually corporate lobbyists for the big firms, which is not the same thing, looking to maintain the same market dominance for their members. Read the rest of this entry »