Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

Is Osborne’s Budget the Future of Britain or Will His Bubble Burst?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 12th 2015

For the last fortnight I have been sailing round the northern coast of Norway on holiday – perhaps an appropriate place to view George Osborne’s budget. He clearly thinks that he is on top of the world – the first Tory majority government budget since 1996, his seventh budget, and the second this year, the last only in March.

Osborne did many traditional Tory things – cutting inheritance tax and welfare, stole some of Labour’s clothes on a higher national minimum wage and non-doms, and even took from the Lib Dems in increasing tax-free personal allowances.

This audacious mix of political cross-dressing shows an increasing Tory confidence that they can remake the state, politics and Britain in their image. The Tories know they won the election, not because people necessarily agreed with them, but because of Labour weakness. For the last five years Labour has lost the economic debate, not knowing how to present its record in office, and ambivalent about its future offer. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two Nations. And Two Leaders

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 10th 2015

We awoke on Friday morning to a very different world. A nearly completely yellow Scotland. A bluer England. And a patchwork Wales.

The first majority Tory Government elected since 1992 whilst Scotland passed in one night from Labour dominance to an even more impressive SNP strength. These and more things weren’t meant to happen.

David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister with a majority has taken many people by surprise. No UK Government sitting for a full term has seen its vote rise since Anthony Eden’s in 1955 – and that was an entirely different kind of world.

Labour is this weekend in a state of bewilderment, despite its decent campaign and the public reception of Ed Miliband. The party’s UK wide vote (30.4%) was its third lowest in post-war times – only exceeded by the 1983 humiliation and 2010 Brown defeat. The party has a fundamental problem across large parts of England, and all of Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Britain is on Borrowed Time: The Future of Scottish Independence

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, September 19th 2014

Scotland voted No to independence. In answer to the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, 1,617,989 voted Yes (44.7%) and 2,001,926 voted No (55.3%) in a massively impressive turnout of 84.6%: the highest ever anywhere in the UK in post-war times.

The result, and campaign, will be rightly mulled over and analysed for years, but in the fast moving aftermath it is important to lay down some thoughts and calm-headed thinking. Scotland has changed and shifted in how it sees itself and its future, as a political community, society and nation. Crucially, how others in the rest of the UK and internationally see Scotland, has dramatically and permanently moved.

It has made and unmade political careers. Alex Salmond who brought the SNP to victory in 2007 and 2011 has resigned one day after the vote; Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is the clear favourite to take over the leadership. David Cameron after facing the prospect of political defeat in the last few days, knew he was fighting for his very political life and that Tory plotters were out to get him. Despite the No victory there were continued Tory maneuverings, anger and lack of comprehension over the deep-seated crisis of the union.

The arc of this long campaign involved three distinct phases: the phony war from the election of the SNP as a majority government in May 2011; the slow boiling of November 2013 from when the Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence was published to August 2014; and the last hectic, frenetic, chaotic period leading up to the vote. Read the rest of this entry »

The Battle for Britain and Why Alex Salmond and Independence Has Already Won

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, February 7th 2014

This year is witnessing several battles for Britain – of numerous anniversaries of past military triumphs, of the Scottish independence referendum, and the rising tide of the Tory Party’s continued obsession with Europe.

All of these are inter-related in the long-term, almost existential, crisis of what Britain is, what is it for, what kind of society and values it represents, and what kind of future it offers its people. This tumultuous moment we now find ourselves in is one with many layers: economic, social, democratic, and even geo-political (in where Britain aspires to ally itself internationally).

The Scottish independence referendum is fascinating and not a narrow or arid constitutional debate, but influenced by these wider concerns. Revealingly, to most of the London political classes it is seen as marginal, disconnected from their concerns, of episodic interest, and discounted (as they already assess they have won), as noted by Alex Massie in his front cover piece in this week’s ‘Spectator’ (1). Read the rest of this entry »