Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

The Europe Debate will tell us much about the state of Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 24th 2016

2016 will be a turbulent year for Britain and the world.

One issue will dominate the UK political classes beyond economic and financial worries or anxieties about immigration and security, and that is Europe.

Europe will connect with all of the above and more. Cameron’s main impetus is to have a quick referendum, to win it and get on with the rest of his Prime Ministership. It won’t work out that way.

To have the referendum relatively soon (meaning before Scottish school holidays start) a number of pieces have to fall into place. First, Cameron has to go to his EU summit in February and win some semblance of a deal. Then he has to be able to come back and present it to the House of Commons and country as an honourable agreement – more substantive than Harold Wilson’s fig leaf in 1975. Read the rest of this entry »

2016: The Year of the UK as a Disunited Kingdom in an Unstable World

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 27th 2015

‘The future ain’t what it used to be’ – said American baseball player Yogi Berra.

This year saw unpredictability, shocks and upsets. There was the election of a majority Conservative Government which no polls predicted. There was the tartan tsunami which saw the SNP sweep nearly all before it.

There was the rise and victory of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, while across the world a whole range of populists, from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to Marine Le Pen, waged constant war on their political establishments.

This means that the most confident prediction for the New Year is that the unforeseen will happen. To take some frivolous examples, if Leicester City can sit at the top of the English Premiership, and Aberdeen can run Celtic close in the Scottish Premier, maybe anything can happen?

2016 will see several key milestones and events: the Scottish Parliament elections, the London Mayoral contest, the European in/out referendum if Cameron has his way, and the US Presidential Election. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wider Syria Debate: Challenging Britain’s ‘Empire of the Mind’

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 6th 2015

Britain is off to war again. The parliamentary debate did not live up to the billing. Cameron and Corbyn underperformed. Hilary Benn stole the show and headlines.

Great rhetorical moment this was not. This wasn’t of the quality of 1939 and the outbreak of World War Two, 1940 and the resignation of Chamberlain as PM, Suez and Anthony Eden comparing the Egyptian leader Nasser to Hitler and Mussolini, or even more recently, the Falklands war, when at the outset Margaret Thatcher’s political fate hung in the balance.

This was a diminished debate reflecting Britain’s unsure, nervous position and status. The UK armed forces are at their smallest in decades. There was the shadow of Iraq – constantly referenced throughout the parliamentary debate. Cameron talked of ‘past mistakes’ and Corbyn of ‘the spectre of Iraq’. None of this was helped by the long drawn out process and non-publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the lessons from the Iraq debacle. Read the rest of this entry »

‘English Votes’ is political vandalism and fundamentally changes Britain

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 25th 2015

This week the United Kingdom profoundly changed in how it does politics, democracy and how Parliament operates.

The House of Commons decided by 312 to 270 voters to alter the nature of its composition by differentiating the voting rights of MPs through introducing English votes for English laws. Meaning that – for English-only matters and legislation – Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs will be excluded from a new ‘grand committee’ stage of the bill – which effectively replaces the substantive second reading of a bill.

Why has this happened now and why does it matter? Much of this debate isn’t actually very new. These issues were first raised in the late 19th century when Irish home rule was proposed by Gladstone, and in response, qualifying the rights of MPs was raised; then often called ‘In/Out voting’.

The tipping point was Scotland’s independence referendum. David Cameron announced the next morning that ‘the voices of England must be heard’ and interpreting this as ‘English votes for English laws.’ Read the rest of this entry »

The Appeal and Vision of Tory Britain shouldn’t be underestimated by the left

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, October 11th 2015

The Tory conference gathered this week in good spirits after unexpectedly winning an overall majority in May, and with all their main UK political opponents in disarray.

One rather significant anniversary passed unnoticed this week. This was the 65th anniversary – the day after Cameron’s speech – of Harold Macmillan’s ‘you’ve never had it so good’ election victory in 1959 when the Tories won a third term and overall majority of 100 seats.

Britain and Scotland have changed dramatically since then. Tories and Labour were national parties; neither is now. In 1959 the Tories won 47.2% of the Scottish vote and 31 seats, whereas this May they won 14.9% – and a solitary MP. Read the rest of this entry »