Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

The Age of Rage and the Importance of Opposition – in Europe, UK and Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 21st 2014

This week will see from Thursday onward the Euro-elections which will witness the emergence of a host of populists, mavericks and independent voices being elected across the continent.

The mainstream political class is in crisis across Europe. Conventional politicians and political parties are held in widespread and open contempt, often invoking more deep-seated and angry reactions.

There are huge questions for the continent – on the economic front about jobs, growth and the role of markets, on the social model and its continued viability, on public services and spending, demographic pressures with an aging population and shrinking workforce, and fears and anxieties about immigration.

Nowhere is there a sign of solutions from European elites or institutions. The crisis of the banks, sovereign debt and the euro has become one of Europe itself. Related to this the crisis has become one of the continent’s mainstream political traditions: of centre-right Christian Democracy and conservatism, and centre-left social democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

What does the rise of Ukip mean for Scotland?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 7th 2014

A new national pastime now exists thanks to the existence and rise of Ukip.

This is the round the clock coverage of the party: often mocking, filled with condescension and a barely concealed incredulity that sane citizens will consider supporting such a party. So far all this has seemed to do is feed the appeal that is the Teflon-like Ukip.

The media of course love and hate Ukip in equal measure. Nigel Farage is the joint most frequent panelist on ‘BBC Question Time’ over the last five years (equal with Tory Ken Clarke).  Whether it is Godfrey Bloom’s many bloomers on women, Africa and climate change, or Roger Helmer MEP (who is standing for the party in the Newark by-election) and his views on rape and gays, none of this so far seems to hurt Ukip.

We can debate the characteristics and qualities of Ukip but it is certainly a populist revolt against the modern world and contemporary UK. There is a rage against the machine, political orthodoxies and political correctness in the party, many of its representatives, members and supporters. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland International: A Letter from Istanbul

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 25th 2014

Europe from its edges, corners and fuzzy borderlands looks and feels rather different than it does from elsewhere.

Here in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, Scotland’s debate and the UK’s never-ending turmoil with regard to its relationship with Europe, seems far removed.

Yet what is striking is that there are commonalities between these examples as I contemplate life looking at the shores of the Bosphorus – that historic meeting and clashing point of cultures, and the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Scotland’s deliberations are about some fundamentals which would resonate in the bazaars of Istanbul: namely, geo-political possibilities. Or to put it less grandiosely, about how we want to position ourselves in the world, and who we want to ally ourselves with, aspire to be and identify with. Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the United Kingdom going in relation to Europe and the world?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, December 21st 2013

The United Kingdom is on the move. Firstly, in how it sees itself in relation to Europe, and secondly, in how it understands and places itself in the world.

Take Europe. There is now a rising Euro-scepticism which is very different and more thoughtful, compared to ‘the swivel-eyed loons’ of Tory leadership nightmares, or the retired Colonel Blimp image of Ukip’s unqualified anti-Europeanism.

This more nuanced Euro-scepticism is seen in the ‘Fresh Start’ group of Tory parliamentarians, chaired by Andrea Leadsom, and in the likes of Douglas Carswell, MP and Daniel Hannan, MEP.

Just over a week ago a milestone event took place in London under the auspices of the think tank, ‘Open Europe’. This involved wargaming the scenarios of possible UK detachment and withdrawal from the European Union. Read the rest of this entry »

Nigel Farage, the Scottish Debate and the Future of Europe

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, May 19th 2013

This is an age of uncertainty, crisis and doubt. The UK is experiencing multiple crises: political, constitutional and economic, of the UK in Europe and of Europe itself as an idea and project. And underneath all of this is a deep-seated Western fear, of loss of confidence in Western modernity and anxiety about the future.

The lack of sureness now being displayed in Britain’s political elites is one manifestation, as is the rise of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. The Westminster village has been talking of little else since UKIP burst through in the English local elections winning 23% of the vote, humiliating the mainstream parties.

Cut then this week to the beautiful setting of Edinburgh’s High Street, its castle at one end, Holyrood Palace at the other, tartan tourist tat in between. This was the improbable setting for Nigel Farage’s northern sojourn and face off with Radical Independence supporters.

Insults flew back and forth; the protestors called Farage ‘racist scum’; he retorted by calling them ‘fascist scum’ and then attempted to taint the broad church of Scottish nationalism and the SNP by claiming the former had a ‘fascist side’; the next day in a combative interview on ‘BBC Radio Scotland’ Farage accused the interviewer David Miller of the same ‘hatred’ as the protestors and hung up (1). Read the rest of this entry »